A pollutant linkage must be established to meet the definition of contaminated land. This is because the definition of significant harm is based on a pollutant linkage being present.
Source: A source of contamination in, on or under the ground.
Pathway: A pathway by which the contaminant is causing significant harm (or which presents a significant possibility of such harm being caused).
Receptor: Please see the list below for receptors specified in the regulations.
- Human beings
- Ecological systems or living organisms forming part of a system within certain protected locations including:
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI's)
- National Nature Reserves
- Marine Nature Reserves
- Special Areas of Conservation (SAC's)
- Special Protection Areas (SPA's)
- Candidate SAC's
- RAMSAR sites
- Areas of special protection for birds
3. Property in the form of buildings including:
- Ancient Monuments
4. Property in other forms:
- Home-grown produce
- Owned or domesticated animals
- Wild animals subject to shooting or fishing rights
5. Controlled waters: Defined by reference to Part III (Section 104) of the Water Resources Act 1991; this embraces:
- territorial and coastal waters
- inland fresh waters
- ground waters.
If these three elements are present for the pollutant linkage, a risk assessment must be undertaken to determine the likelihood of significant harm being caused to one of the specified receptors. Having identified the pollutant linkage and undertaken a risk assessment that indicates that significant harm is being caused to a receptor, the land can then be determined as "contaminated land".
If one of the elements is missing the site cannot be determined as "Contaminated Land". For example, if there is a source on site but no pathway to the receptor then there is no pollution linkage. The site cannot be causing harm and cannot therefore be classified as being contaminated land.
When an area of contaminated land has been identified, it will go through a four stage process by either the Council or the Environment Agency. For further information, please see Dealing With Contaminated Land.