Environmental searches

The Council holds and maintains a range of environmental information obtained from several sources, including historical maps, borehole records, previous investigative reports and remedial works, which it makes available to the public through a low-cost Environmental Search service.  Other commercial search agencies would not necessarily have access to such local information and their searches may not reflect the current condition or legal status of the land.

The Council’s Environmental Health Section receives requests for Environmental Searches on a regular basis. A number of common reasons include:

  • For information regarding contamination and environmental issues in relation to a property sale.
  • By consultants/companies undertaking an environmental assessment of a site.

The Council strongly recommends that an “Environmental Search” is obtained, prior to the purchase, lease or development of any land or property within the Borough.   

The two standard environmental searches undertaken are detailed below:

Environmental Search 1

This type of search is targeted at solicitors or individuals who are interested in the legal and contamination status of a particular site or property. Information regarding a property or site includes:

  • Past Industrial Use – including a series of past historical maps
  • Summary of any borehole logs, site investigations, where available, including gas monitoring results
  • Summary of any remediation work, where available
  • Unlicensed, pre-licensed, closed or active landfill sites within a 250 metre radius
  • Status of the site under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and to confirm whether there is an entry on the Public Register.

In addition to the standard Environmental Search, photocopies of any reports can be obtained (see list of fees for further information).

Environmental Search 2

This type of search is targeted at environmental consultants who are interested in undertaking a preliminary environmental assessment of a site and therefore may be interested in the site and surrounding land within a 250 metre radius.  Information regarding the site in question and the surrounding land within a 250 metre radius includes:

  • Past Industrial Use – including a series of past historical maps
  • A list of geoenvironmental reports for example borehole logs, site investigations, remediation and validation reports, where available, including gas monitoring results
  • Status of the site under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and to confirm whether there is an entry on the Public Register.
  • Unlicensed, pre-licensed, closed or active landfill sites
  • Tank Register
  • Part A and Part B Installations
  • Pollution Incidents
  • Radon
  • Groundwater
  • Source Protection Zones
  • Licensed Abstractions
  • Surface Water
  • Consent for Discharge

In addition to the standard Environmental Search, photocopies of any reports can be obtained (see list of fees for further information).

Requesting an Environmental Search

Environmental Searches can be requested by letter, email, fax or by completing and sending our Request Form Environmental Search request form [word document] by post, email or fax.  Please also include a plan showing clearly the boundary of the site in question and your contact details. 

Darlington Borough Council will provide information in response to an environmental search request within 20 working days however we will endeavour, where possible, to respond sooner usually within 5 days.

The reply we make is limited to the records available at the time the query is answered.   Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, this cannot be guaranteed and Darlington Borough Council accepts no responsibility for its accuracy or otherwise.

Requesting an environmental search has been defined as a “business as usual” request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  The information is, therefore, exempt under Section 21 of the Act.   If you would like more information on the Council’s policies and procedures on your information rights, please visit the Freedom of Information and Environmental Information request pages.

Fees

The Council charges for carrying out Environmental Searches.  You will appreciate that there are resource implications in searching for this information and preparing a suitable response and therefore it is necessary to charge for this service.

The fee for each of the two standard searches is £65 per site.  This is based on the Contaminated Land Officer’s average time taken to respond to a standard request.  The fee has been calculated on a maximum site of enquiry area of 10,000m2 and will include the historical maps. 

Additional Information

Additional charges based upon the number of hours, or part hours taken to provide the information will be made if: -

  • The site larger than 10,000m2.
  • The distance of the buffers is greater than the standard 250 metre radius used for Environmental Search 2.
  • Additional photocopying, for example copies of site investigations or remediation works is charged at 10p for an A4 B&W sheet, 20p for an A3 B&W sheet, £1.00 for an A4 Colour sheet and £2.00 for an A3 Colour sheet. The Council will also make a charge of 90p in order to cover the costs of postage and packing. However, where a large amount of the documents to the posted exceed the standard 90p charge, the additional postage costs will be added to the photocopying charge.
  • Should you require information on the reports listed in Environmental Search 2 please contact Environmental Health. 
  • Please contact the Contaminated Land Officer for an estimate of likely cost.

Methods of payment

By Post - Cheques or postal orders made payable to ‘Darlington Borough Council’.  Please write ‘Environmental Searches – 16014 9815' on the reverse of the cheque.

By credit card - please telephone 01325 406432

For standard searches the payment can be forwarded to the Contaminated Land Officer direct along with your environmental search. Should you require any further information which will incur an additional charge we will contact you.

Should you have any queries regarding payment or wish to discuss other methods of payment please do not hesitate to email EnvironmentalSearches@darlington.gov.uk or contact the Contaminated Land Officer direct.