Contaminated land pollution
Past industry and waste disposal activities can pollute or contaminate land - this can be hazardous to health and the environment. Many areas in Islington have an industrial or commercial past which may have made the land unsuitable for some uses.
To create a clean and safe environment, we have a 'legal duty' to implement and enforce contaminated land legislation by:
- identifying land where contamination is causing an unacceptable risk to health or the environment
- ensuring that contaminated land is cleaned up and made safe
- ensuring that building and development sites are investigated and cleaned up by developers, so they are safe and suitable for their new use
Developers and land owners (sometimes including previous land owners) have to ensure that land is safe for its intended use, especially if we have identified it as being potentially contaminated.
If you plan to buy a house on land with an industrial past use, there might still be contamination in the ground.
This can only be confirmed by investigating the land and taking soil samples.
Your solicitor may arrange for environmental searches to be carried out to satisfy your mortgage lender. This is usually a search of records to find previous land uses.
Land quality searches
If you are buying or selling a property you may need to search some of the records we hold. These include:
- the public register of contaminated land
- information on former industrial activity in the borough
- details of environmental permits.
Standard searches are £100. For more information about what we offer and the fee payable, contact us on 0207 527 7272 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Land contamination assessments
Before submitting a planning application developers should complete an appropriate 'contamination assessment' if:
- there is evidence that the site may be affected by contamination
- the proposed use is 'vulnerable to the presence of contamination'
As a minimum, a contamination assessment must include a 'Phase 1 investigation' with:
- a desk study
- a site walkover
- a conceptual site model
If high levels of contamination are known (or suspected) to be present, we may need more detailed information to be submitted with the planning application.
Investigation and cleaning up of land
If a site is contaminated or suspected to be contaminated, planning conditions will usually be imposed to ensure it is investigated and cleaned up (remediated) appropriately.
Planning conditions will only be 'discharged' once they have been fulfilled to our environmental pollution team's satisfaction. Carrying out unacceptable or insufficient work, or submitting unsuitable or incomplete reports, may lead to delays to the development and additional costs.
Contaminated land strategy
We have a strategy to outline our approach to identifying and cleaning contaminated land.
- how we will inspect an area for contamination
- how we will deal with any land that is found to be contaminated
- the progress made to date
Over 1,000 potentially contaminated sites have been identified in Islington. A map of known or suspected contaminated land in Islington is available on page 26 of our Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy.
Contaminated land register
All local authorities are required under Part 2a of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Contaminated Land Regulations 2000 to keep a public record of contaminated land in their borough.
There is currently one entry on our contaminated land public register.
How to resolve a problem
If you think that land is contaminated:
or call the pollution team on 020 7527 7272.
If any kind of artificial light is shining outside the area it needs to illuminate, we call this light pollution.
We can help when this interferes with the use of your property, for example when it stops you from sleeping. This is called a 'statutory nuisance'.
We can't help when it is an annoyance, for example when animals cause a security light to come on.
If you have a problem
The quickest way to resolve a light pollution problem (if you are comfortable about it) is often to speak to the person responsible and explain how the light is affecting you - they may be unaware that it is causing a problem.
You can politely suggest possible solutions, like:
- re-angling or partially shading the light
- fitting a passive infra-red sensor so that the light is not on all the time
- using a lower wattage/low energy bulb
If you can’t do this or it doesn’t work and the light is impacting your quality of life:
or call our anti-social behaviour reporting line on 020 7527 7272.
How to avoid causing light nuisance
Minimise your chances of causing light nuisance:
- think about the position of lights and avoid shining them towards a neighbour's bedroom window
- use low watt, low energy bulbs - 150W is adequate for most situations and will decrease running costs compared to larger alternatives
- fit a timer to reduce the amount of time the light is on
- make sure the area covered by any sensors isn't too wide, so that it doesn't cause the light to come on too often
- use a shield or hood to direct the light to the intended area only
Our environmental pollution team can help with some noise problems in order to create a pleasant soundscape across the borough.
Annoyance or nuisance
In London there is noise around us - all day, every day. We can help in many ways but can only take action if the noise meets certain conditions that make it a nuisance.
We cannot take action when a sound is just annoying. For instance, a building site operating heavy machinery at 4pm could be annoying but the same thing happening at 4am would be a nuisance.
We work to regulate noise and to improve the soundscape of the borough, although we cannot control everything.
Typically we get asked about:
Industrial noise: building and demolition work, railways, street and roadworks, air conditioning and refrigeration
Commercial noise: deliveries, pubs, clubs and licenced premises, loudspeakers, buskers and street entertainers
Anti-social noise nuisance: barking dogs, DIY, music and parties, musical instruments and band practice, alarms, fireworks
How to report a problem
If you feel comfortable, the quickest way to resolve a noise pollution issue is often to speak to the person responsible and explain how the noise is affecting you. They may be unaware that they are causing a problem.
If you can’t do this or it doesn’t work and the noise is impacting your quality of life, let us know.
or call our anti-social behaviour reporting line: 020 7527 7272.
Smells and odour pollution
The Environmental Pollution Team can help with problems of some odours and smells, including:
- industrial and commercial odours
- cooking odours from restaurants and takeaways
- smoky chimneys
- smelly deposits/accumulations, including rubbish
- fumes or gases from faulty heating appliances
How to report a problem
If you feel comfortable, the quickest way to resolve an odour pollution issue is often to speak to the person responsible and explain how the odour is affecting you. They may be unaware that they are causing a problem.
If you can’t do this or it doesn’t work and the odour is impacting your quality of life, let us know:
or call the anti-social behaviour reporting line on 020 7527 7272.
Natural gas odours should be reported to the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111999. Read more from the National Grid.
We are responsible for ‘private water supplies’, i.e. those that aren't provided by Thames Water. This could be any water supply which is not provided by a water company and instead takes water from wells - things like boreholes, springs, rivers and streams, lakes or ponds.
To report pollution in a stream, river or pond, please contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.
To report an issue with the quality of your drinking water please contact Thames Water on 0800 316 9800 (Textphone for deaf or hard of hearing: 0800 316 6899).
Checking your water is safe
Unless properly protected and treated, water supplies can pose a threat to health. Without proper testing you will not be able to tell whether your water is safe as smell, taste or colour may not indicate contamination. Unlike mains supplies, many private supplies are not treated to remove contamination.
If you have a private water supply you should:
- find out:
- who is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance
- where the source is
- where it goes to get to your property
- if it is treated in any way, and if so, that the treatment equipment is in good order and serviced regularly
- keep your supply safe
- make sure you inspect all parts of your supply regularly, including the catchment area. Fix any problems as quickly as possible. You can find more information about keeping your supply safe on the Drinking Water Inspectorate website.
- register your supply with us. We monitor the quality of all private supplies in the Islington area. However, if there are only a small number of people using the supply you may only require monitoring to be done once every five years. To find out if your supply is registered please contact the Environmental Pollution Team.
We can offer free advice and information but there will be a charge for additional sampling.
Changing to a mains supply
If you no longer want to use your private supply you can ask your local water company about the possibility of connecting to the public supply. You will probably have to pay all of the costs. For further information contact Thames Water.