Environmental Issues to be aware of when buying a property
02nd October 2012

People may not be aware that although the house they purchase may be in good condition, the land which it is built on may have problems associated with it. This is something that a local authority or water and drainage search will not uncover. The local search will not reveal any landfill sites, waste disposal sites or whether the land is at risk from contamination, toxic emissions, flooding, subsidence or radioactivity. It is currently estimated that there are 250,000 sites which have been filled, and that there are over 400,000 industrial sites, which are no longer being used and which may be contaminated land. Many of these sites may have already been built on but even so, as the current owner of the property, you may be liable to pay for the clean-up costs of the pollution created by former owners.

The Government requires that 60% of all new houses to be built over the next decade must be built on brownfield sites. It is estimated that 1% of all land in Britain is contaminated with pollutants. These are serious enough to warrant enquiry by anyone buying a new home. If you purchase a property without checking the environmental issues, it may prove very difficult to sell. An environmental search report provides data on a range of environmental issues within a 500 metre radius of the property and will contain information obtained from the Environment Agency, Coal Board, Ordnance Survey amongst other data providers. It will also provide a risk assessment as to nearby sites that may release contamination and whether the land is an area affected by Radon gas, flooding landslip coal mining or subsidence.

In view of the above, it would seem prudent to commission an environmental search bearing in mind the high costs that could arise from any unknown issues. The cost of such a report could be as little as £40 plus VAT, a cost surely worth paying.

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