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Environmental search turned up contaminated land

(11 Posts)
TrinaLuciusMalfoy Tue 23-Apr-13 22:41:55

Hi, I wonder if anyone had any suggestions.

We're in the process of buying/selling homes and we've had the results back of the environmental search. We cannot apparently be given a certificate as there's the potential for a previous business nearby (gas bottling plant with underground storage tanks which are long since gone, not actually on the land the house was built) having contaminated the land.
Does anyone have any experience with this? The advice from our solicitor has been cagey at best and we asked her to get more info from the seller's solicitors. It's been two weeks though and we've heard nothing on that score.

Can we purchase somewhere with no environmental certificate? The solicitor said something about environmental insurance- has anyone any idea what this covers and how pricey it is?

There's also mention of checking with the council about remediation work done when the old plant was turned into a new housing development - should we be doing that or would you expect that to be the solicitors' job (either ours or theirs)?

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 23-Apr-13 22:47:01

I would guess you could get an analysis firm to do a core and check for sure - checking on land registry/adjacent businesses is patchy at best.

The vendor might cover this as it would be to their advantage if tests negative for contamination.

Issues such as groundwater, drainage direction, underground water courses, soil type, bedrock depth, slope and tank decomission date/reports etc should be considered too. I think a good environmental anlysis firm will have access to decommissioning report databases..


YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 23-Apr-13 22:48:43

hang on, if there is an existing housing development there, then due dilligence should have been done already to get through planning - if there is a contamination issue, the council (via planning) would be liable and vendor or you could sue as could the developer of the housing land and residents there..

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 23-Apr-13 22:49:27

You will be able to get the planning docs btw.

Anifrangapani Wed 24-Apr-13 21:31:10

What sort of survey? If it was a desk survey they will have checked land use from maps. If it is a field survey then they would have sunk soil cores. Desk will have picked up from the maps / previous land use survey that there were tanks on the area that potentially could cause contamination. It can't say that there is contamination unless it has been recorded from a previous field survey.

It would be worthwhile to check the planning docs for the adjacent housing estate to see what is in there.

denialandpanic Thu 25-Apr-13 20:19:06

ring the contaminated land officer at your local borough not county council.there's a leaflet on the environmental protection uk website about potential liabilities under part 2 a of the environmental protection act 1990. do not assume the right works were done under planning.

denialandpanic Thu 25-Apr-13 20:21:18

the solicitor will have Ordered a basic screening search of historical map and database information from a company like landmark.a graduate consultant will have written an opinion.the council have the real information.

denialandpanic Thu 25-Apr-13 20:23:01

councils is not liable if missed through planning "the developer is responsible for ensuring the land is suitable for use". good luck pinning down any developer for historical liabilities!!

TrinaLuciusMalfoy Fri 26-Apr-13 23:40:57

Sorry, mental week and haven't got back to this thread.

Drainage direction is a good point: the house we're buying is on a slope, the tanks would drain away from it, not towards.

It's a desk survey only, to the best of my knowledge no-one has been out to the area apart from our mortgage surveyor.

A lot of 'look for this/search for that/ring them' has been suggested - shouldn't the sellers be doing that? Isn't it up to them to prove to us the place isn't contaminated?

Does anyone know if it would cost money to view planning docs?

denialandpanic Sat 27-Apr-13 08:21:03

you can view opening docs at your council usually the main office free of charge.look on their website if it's a recent duplication post 2003 it's online for us.add to who should be doing the searches out depends how much you want the property.It's your mortgage company you have to convinceand you who has to worry about resale.personally I would want to research it myself so I could be sure I had all the available facts.

WinnieFosterTether Sat 27-Apr-13 22:07:04

Check if you can be granted a certificate if you complete a more extensive environmental desk survey. This is less expensive than taking test bores and can make the difference between a property being mortgageable or not. Basically it means the environmental surveyors talk to the local authority about past use, issues and whether or not the property is on the contaminated land register.

It's not up to the sellers to prove the land isn't contamindated unless you make that part of your missives.

Equally contamination laws have changed dramatically over the last few years so a build that was approved 20 years ago might not meet recent criteria. If you don't opt for the more extensive desk study then it's worth giving the council a call. You'll be able to find the planning applications and conditions for the original development. However, tracking down the corresponding paperwork that shows remediation work has been undertaken will be a much harder find.

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