Contaminated land: UK Legislation

The article entitled, Contaminated land - The Warning card? is featured on the Law Society's website. It discusses Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This new land regime applies to all land, including residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural land. Given the growing concerns for the natural environment worldwide, this article is of relevance to South African conveyancers in its discussion of environmental liability.

It stresses that the conveyancing attorney needs to consider whether his or her client should institute further enquiries and obtain specialist assistance in property transactions. Non-compliance can be costly and could result in expenditure that could exceed the value of the property.

How does environmental liability affect the conveyancer?
As far as conveyancing is concerned, the conveyancer should, in every transaction (including purchases, mortgages and leases):

  • advise the client of potential liabilities associated with contaminated land;
  • make specific enquiries of the seller;
  • make enquiries of statuatory and regulatory bodies;
  • investigate the site's history independently; for example obtain a site report from a commercial company;
  • advise the client to have the full site independently investigated;
  • consider the use of contractual protections and the use of exclusion tests.
If problems remain unresolved, the conveyancer should consider advising his or her client to either withdraw or to seek insurance.
Other relevant legislation includes: the Water Resources Act 1991, the Groundwater Regulations 1998 and the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000.

Full article on website

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