Policy SE 12: Pollution, Land Contamination and Land Instability

  1. The council will seek to ensure all development is located and designed so as not to result in a harmful or cumulative impact upon air quality, surface water and groundwater, noise, smell, dust, vibration, soil contamination, light pollution or any other pollution which would unacceptably affect the natural and built environment, or detrimentally affect amenity or cause harm. Developers will be expected to minimise, and mitigate the effects of possible pollution arising from the development itself, or as a result of the development (including additional traffic) during both the construction and the life of the development. Where adequate mitigation cannot be provided, development will not normally be permitted.
  2. Development for new housing or other environmentally sensitive development will not normally be permitted where existing air pollution, soil contamination, noise, smell, dust, vibration, light or other pollution levels are unacceptable and there is no reasonable prospect that these can be mitigated against.
  3. Development should support improvements to air quality, not contradict the Air Quality Strategy or Air Quality Action Plan and seek to promote sustainable transport policies.
  4. Where a proposal may affect or be affected by contamination or land instability (including natural dissolution and/or brine pumping related subsidence), at the planning application stage, developers will be required to provide a report which investigates the extent of the contamination or stability issues and the possible affect it may have on the development and its future users, the natural and built environment. This report should be written in line with best practice guidance.
  5. In most cases, development will only be deemed acceptable where it can be demonstrated that any contamination or land instability issues can be appropriately mitigated against and remediated, if necessary


13.127 The National Planning Policy Framework states that the planning system should 'prevent both new and existing development from contributing to or being put at unacceptable risk from, or being adversely affected by unacceptable levels of soil, air, water or noise pollution or land instability'; as well as ‘remediating and mitigating despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated and unstable land, where appropriate’

13.128 The council strongly supports the need to protect the environment and residents from the effects of pollution. Some types of development may cause or contribute to air quality, water or land pollution. The council will therefore seek to make sure that levels are kept to a minimum through the construction phase and life of the development, and are not detrimental to human health, the environment or the amenity of neighbouring or nearby users, or the users of the development itself.

13.129 Paragraph 124 of the NPPF requires that planning policies should sustain compliance with, and contribute towards, EU Limit values or national objectives for pollutants, taking account of the presence of Air Quality Management Areas and the cumulative impacts on air quality for individual sites in local areas. Planning decisions should ensure new development in (or which may affect) an Air Quality Management Area is consistent with the current Cheshire East Air Quality Action Plan.

13.130 One approach to dealing with the cumulative impact of developments is through the preparation of a low emissions strategy designed to accelerate the uptake of low emissions fuels and technologies in and around development sites. Cheshire East Council is currently in the process of producing a low emission strategy for the borough.

13.131 Noise and vibration can lead to harm or be detrimental to amenity. Whilst planning cannot control the noise or vibration from existing established development, it can try to ensure that new noise sensitive development is not close to existing sources which generate noise, such as industrial uses, noise created by vehicles and other forms of transport or even evening uses such as hot food takeaways. This policy will seek to ensure development is planned appropriately, so new developments which have the potential to create noise are not located in places where they would unacceptably affect the natural and built environment, or detrimentally affect amenity or cause harm.

13.132 Noise and vibration during the construction process can often cause disturbance and detrimentally affect amenity to occupants of neighbouring properties. The council will, where necessary, seek to attach planning conditions assessing each case on its individual merits.

13.133 Lighting is an important part of ‘everyday life’ as it can be used to improve the appearance and character of an area/building, as a security feature and a way in which uses can be extended for longer periods of time (into the evening hours) thereby causing potential noise issues. The council is aware of the increasing issues arising from artificial lighting, which can often impact upon residential amenity, the character and appearance of an area (particularly rural locations) and the environment. Aspects such as poor design, location, the expel of unnecessarily high levels of light can have a harmful impact. In addition, lighting left on unnecessarily is a waste of energy.

13.134 Whilst not all forms of lighting require planning permission, the council will, where appropriate, seek to influence light pollution that would have a harmful impact upon the natural/built environment and amenity.

13.135 Contamination is not always restricted to previously developed land, it can be located on greenfield land and can arise from natural sources as well as from human activities. Development on land which is known or suspected to be contaminated, or for uses which would be particularly vulnerable in terms of exposure to contamination (such as housing or schools), must be supported by sufficient information to enable the possible contamination risks to be fully assessed. It is essential that measures are then put in place which allows the development to go ahead safely.

13.136 Natural conditions such as landslides (due to geology, angle of land), soluble rocks or mining activities such as coal mining or subsidence caused by brine pumping footnote 80 can cause land instability. Guidance on areas affected by brine pumping is available as part of the pre-application advice process (generally, this issue affects Middlewich, Sandbach and North Cheshire). Specific conditions may need to be applied to address the impact of ground instability in these areas. Development on land which would be affected by, or would affect land stability must therefore be accompanied by a report which identifies the risk. Development on land where instability cannot be mitigated and remediated will not normally be allowed.

13.137 The council will seek the advice of the appropriate regulatory/statutory organisations including the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Manchester Airport, The Coal Authority and The Cheshire Brine Subsidence Compensation Board on proposals falling within defined consultation zones. There are a number of installations and pipelines in the borough handling notifiable substances and the Proposals Map will indicate consultation zones appropriate to their uses.

13.138 Further guidance on the above will be provided in subsequent planning policy or Supplementary Planning Documents.

Key Evidence

  1. Cheshire East Air Quality Strategy
  2. Cheshire East Air Quality Management Areas and their resultant assessments
  3. Cheshire East Air Quality Action Plan
  4. Cheshire East Annual Air Quality Progress Reports
  5. Cheshire East Contaminated Land Strategy
  6. Environmental Noise Directive - Noise Action Plans (various for Air, Road, Agglomerations)
  7. Cheshire Planning Noise Guidelines (Part 1: Mineral and Waste Disposal) (1996)
  8. Noise Pollution: Construction Noise Leaflet
  9. Cheshire Brine Pumping (Compensation for Subsidence) Act, 1952

(Footnote 80) There is a statutory duty under the Cheshire Brine Pumping (Compensation for Subsidence) Act, 1952 to consult with the Cheshire Brine Subsidence Compensation Board for all development within certain prescribed consultation areas.

Policy information


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