Development on Land Potentially Affected by Contamination

Advice on land potentially affected by contamination

Key considerations

You should consider the potential risks to the water environment, including groundwater, due to impacts from potential contamination as a result of previous industrial use(s) of the site or its proximity to potentially polluting industrial or commercial activities. The priorities for DAERA in assessing a planning application are to consider the potential for contamination to be present at the site that could impact on environmentally sensitive receptors including groundwater and surface water. The Environmental Health Department within the relevant Local Council is the authoritative body with respect to environmental health matters.

Planning applications for the redevelopment of sites potentially affected by contamination need to be, as a minimum, accompanied by a Preliminary Risk Assessment (PRA) report.

In the event of potential pollutant linkages being identified, a suitable Quantitative Risk Assessment QRA may be needed. If unacceptable risks are identified, a remediation strategy may be required. The remediation actions need to be undertaken to a standard that enables safe development and end-use of the site such that it would not meet the statutory definition of contaminated land under Part III of the Waste and Contaminated Land Order (Northern Ireland) 1997. It remains the responsibility of the developer to undertake and demonstrate that the works have been effective in managing all risks.

The management of waste and the movement of materials on and/or off site should also be considered throughout the full land contamination risk management process.

Should DAERA be consulted?

Answering ‘Yes’ to any of the following questions may require consultation with DAERA:

  • does the development include ground works within 250 m of a site identified as having a previous land use that may have resulted in land contamination?
  • has the applicant/agent identified any potential land contamination issues resulting from previous land use?

Note: where the proposal involves limited ground works (e.g. replacement dwellings, house extensions, change of use, change of house type, internal refurbishment or retrospective applications) consultation is not required.

Planning consultations should not be issued to DAERA until all of the necessary assessments have been completed.  Planning applications accompanied by adequate supporting information in relation to contaminated or potentially contaminated land are more likely to be processed more quickly.

Documents Required

The Practice Guide: Redeveloping Land Affected by Contamination describes in a series of checklists some important elements of each of the following reports but these are not exhaustive.

  • Preliminary Risk Assessment (PRA)
  • Generic Quantitative Risk Assessment (GQRA)
  • Detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment (DQRA)
  • Remediation strategy
  • Remediation Implementation Plan
  • Remediation Verification Plan
  • Remediation Verification Report
  • Piling Risk Assessments for Land Affected by Contamination
  • Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP)

Further guidance

Data sources

The Historical Landuse Database holds records of sites where, based on their historic land-use, there is potential for contamination to be present. Such land-uses include former petrol stations, chemical manufacturing or gas works sites.

The database, developed in 1997, contains details on approximately 12,000 sites within Northern Ireland. However, the information has not been fully validated and details are provided on a 'without prejudice' basis. A listing on the database does not necessarily mean that the site is affected by contamination. If the previous land-use indicates the potential for contamination we would recommend an initial desk study, supported by an appropriate risk assessment and site investigation if required to determine if unacceptable risks to health or the environment are present.

The Landuse Database is available to view via the OSNI Spatial NI Geoportal Map viewer at Access is free of charge (To view in the map viewer - Agree T&C – Click Add data – Click Historic Industrial Landuse – Click Add – Click Open Layer List – Click View).

The Historical Land Use Geospatial files are also available to download through the DAERA digital downloads page at Access is free of charge and by downloading and using these files, you agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions.

DAERA Water Digital Dataset Downloads

Water Information Request Viewer

Waste Management Public Registers are available at and

Environmental Data Services (ENDS) provides a comprehensive listing of local and United Kingdom based environmental consultants which are available to view and search on through the ENDS website

United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) provides a search facility to check the accreditation status of organisations i.e. laboratories.

(Water) Domestic Consent Public Register


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