Contaminated land

Find out what actions Breckland Council can take on contaminated land and how we determine responsibility


Contamination and Building Regulations

If the development requires a Building Regulations permission, practical guidance is laid out in Contamination and Building Regulations approved documents (opens new window).

Ground Gas Protection Measures

If your development requires gas protection measures you may wish to refer to our leaflet  Ground Gas Protection Measures - frequently asked questions (PDF) [292KB] (opens new window) .

Buying or selling land/Properties

You should obtain specialist advice before buying or selling contaminated land. When you buy land in Breckland, the Land Charges department will be able to tell you if a site has been declared 'contaminated land' under the strict legal definition.

In addition, it is advisable to search other relevant sources of information to find out the history of the site and look for potential sources of contamination.


Land contamination is a material planning consideration. This means that any potentially contaminated land passing through the planning process should be dealt with ensuring that there are no further risks to the future occupiers or wider environment from this land.

It is the developer's responsibility to ensure a safe development as laid out in  Planning and Pollution in Norfolk (PDF) [863KB] (opens new window) and accompanying  Development on Land Affected by Contamination (PDF) [1MB] (opens new window) . The responsibility is also on the developer to disclose information on contamination.

Where there is the potential for contamination to be present, or the proposed use would be particularly vulnerable to contamination (such as housing or schools), the council will require a desk study and walkover report to be submitted at the time of the initial application as a minimum. The level of information needed will depend on the circumstances of the site and the nature of the proposed use. Please refer to our  Contaminated Land Planning Advice Note (PDF) [1MB] (opens new window)  for details.

Breckland Council is mindful of the potential cost implications of producing a desk study. For certain situations, we have produced a vulnerable development questionnaire (PDF) [248KB] (opens new window)  to help identify whether a more formal desk study is necessary. Please see our  Contaminated Land Planning Advice Note (PDF) [1MB] (opens new window)  for when these questionnaires apply.

Planning Advice Leaflets

Frequently asked questions

How can I report an oil spillage?

An oil spill can cause land to become contaminated. It is important that you take action promptly to prevent the spill from spreading.

Please complete our online form to report the issue.

Report oil spillage online

What does Breckland Council do about contaminated land?

How do we assess contamination?

  • Source: a contaminant which exists in, on or under the site.
  • Pathway: a means by which the contaminant can reach a receptor.
  • Receptor: someone or something that could be affected by the contaminant (such as a person, water resource, or building).

Who is responsible and who pays?

  • The owner or occupier of the contaminated land.
    • You may still be responsible for remediation even after selling the land.
  • The law follows the 'polluter pays' principle: the person or organisation that caused or permitted the contamination must pay to have it put right.
    • If that person or organisation is unknown, then the current owner of the land may become responsible.

What should I do about domestic heating oil leaks?

Can 'brownfield' sites be reused?

  • Approval of an application for the redevelopment of these sites will only be granted on condition that the contamination is cleaned up to a standard that makes it fit for the land's new use.

For further information you can contact Breckland's Contaminated Land Officer by submitting a General Enquiry Form or telephone 01362 656870

You can find further useful information and downloads from the Planning Portal Website (opens new window).

Last updated: 23/05/2024 11:52:38