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Development on contaminated land - what you need to know

Contaminated land is a problem if it presents a threat to the environment, or if it poses risks to people using the land. The development of land, including contaminated land is dealt with through the planning process.

It is common for planning permission to include conditions relating to the assessment and remediation of potentially contaminated land.

Where this condition is included on the planning consent, it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide information on the site in terms of contamination by providing a site investigation report

It is the responsibility of our planning team to determine the appropriateness of this information, including the acceptability of the site investigation, risk assessment and proposal for remediation, to allow us to discharge (or approve) the condition.

The site investigation typically involves three phases: Phase I, II and III. We have provided checklists for site investigation within our Contaminated Land guide. These checklists give the minimum requirements that will be accepted for Phase I, II and III.

You can save time and avoid delays by making sure: 

  • Reports strictly follow the format detailed in the Contaminated Land guide. If they don't, the information will not be considered.
  • All information relevant to the report is collated as one submission. Incomplete information will not be considered.
  • Documents are submitted through the Scottish Government ePlanning portal. We cannot accept emailed site investigation reports.

Documents that do not follow the guidance below will not be accepted:

  • Uploaded documents must be given a unique reference/revision number (documents larger than 10Mb cannot be submitted through the portal).
  • A suitable numbering sequence must be used when splitting a large document (for example, 1 of 3, 2 of 3, 3 of 3 for a document that has been split into three parts).
  • The post submission form must be used to upload additional information relating to your application, including reports.
  • Your planning reference number issued by us (e.g. 22/00000/FUL) must always be quoted when you upload additional information.

For particularly large files, please contact us to discuss the option of document exchange. The maximum file size for this type of submission is 20Mb. Again if a document is split, it must be appropriately titled and have a clear numbering sequence. Documents not following a clear numbering sequence will not be accepted.

Depending on the complexity of the contamination issue, it may take some time for the planning condition to be agreed. Developers should address these matters as early as possible to prevent possible delays to their build programme.

Early sign-off will also help our Building Standards team conclude building warrant applications.  Failure to comply with planning conditions may result in planning enforcement action being taken.

More information can be found at our contaminated land webpage and planning enforcement charter.  

Contaminated land

Page last updated:
21 Dec 2023

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