Causes of contamination

The late 18th century to the 20th century saw Doncaster emerge as an important industrial centre. Processes such as mining, waste disposal and manufacturing have left contamination such as heavy metals, fuels, mining wastes in or on the land. This has left Doncaster with a legacy of potentially contaminated land.

Definition of contaminated land

The Contaminated Land Regime, which forms Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act, defines contaminated land as:

Any land, which appears to the local authority in whose area it is situated, to be in such a condition. By reason of substances either in, on or under the land, that:

  1. significant harm is being caused or there is the significant possibility of such harm being caused
  2. pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused

This regime goes on to define harm as 'harm to health of living organisms or other interference with ecological systems of which they form a part'. In the case of man, this also includes harm to his property.


According to the guidance local authorities are required to inspect their area ‘from time to time’ for the purposes:

  • of identifying contaminated land. Once contaminated land is identified it is then determined 
  • of enabling the authority to decide whether any such land is land which is required to be designated as a special site

Environment Agency

Although local authorities have sole responsibility for determining land as contaminated, the Environment Agency is responsible for the subsequent regulation of certain Part 2A sites. These are designated as ‘special sites’. These sites may be contaminated by virtue of the pollution of controlled waters, or the contamination by certain processes or are sites owned by the Ministry of Defence.

Identifying contaminated land

The application of inspection strategies should lead to areas of potentially contaminated land being identified with those with the most pressing and serious problems being prioritised. Such sites are then subjected to a detailed investigation and risk assessment in accordance with current best practice guidance to decide whether the site should be determined as ‘contaminated land'.

In order for contaminated land to exist, the local authority must satisfy itself that a pollution linkage exists in relation to land. A pollution linkage comprises three separate components:

  1. a source of contamination
  2. a receptor for that contamination to affect
  3. a pathway capable of exposing a receptor to the contaminant source

The local authority must then satisfy itself that the pollution linkage is significant and must consider the degree of possibility or likelihood of significant harm and/or the pollution of controlled waters. Unless all three elements of a pollutant linkage are present land cannot be determined as contaminated.

Inspection Strategy

Doncaster Council's Contaminated Land Strategy identifies potential sources and receptors within the borough, and then details how potential contaminated land will be identified and prioritised.

Download (4.19MB)


Contaminated land register

Doncaster Council has determined 41 areas of land as contaminated to date. These are recorded in our Contaminated land register  

Developing on contaminated land:



For further information

If you are not satisfied and want to use the formal complaints procedure please contact

Last updated: 08 December 2023 12:13:48

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