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Sale & purchase

What are Environmental Searches?

What are Environmental SearchesEnvironmental search is an important search and may even affect the prospective buyer’s decision to proceed with or withdraw from the deal.

Thanks to increased awareness, environmental safety has become a major issue in recent years. Such issues play a large part when considering the purchase of a land. Besides facing costs for clean-up, the buyer will also have to consider the danger to his family caused by contamination of the land. In fact, the Law Society has issued a warning card to all conveyancing solicitors that they need to consider possible problems in the contaminated land that is the subject of the transaction.

There are several other environmental issues that may affect the purchase of the property. For instance, the solicitor may need to check if the property is close to a land fill or if there are factories close to the area that discharges hazardous substances. It is best advised to seek an environmental report in all transactions.

Earlier, it was not necessary to seek an environmental report on residential properties. But a series of incidents have made it necessary for buyers to make enquiries about potential environmental hazards. In fact, such enquiries are to be made even in new houses, especially when the property is close to a former/current industrial land.

While there is no separate thing such as an ‘environmental report’, all information related to environmental queries can be sought from a wide variety of sources including Environmental Agency, the seller, and other historical records.

Once all information is gathered, the first step is to assess the risk. This is done by engaging professional search providers that offer packaged environmental reports by collating information from a wide variety of sources. A specialist environmental consultant can also be engaged to prepare a detailed and professional report that draws information from documents.

If upon scrutiny, it is established that the land was previously subject to contaminative uses, the buyer should determine if the land is indeed contaminated and also determine the extent of contamination. Environmental consultants should be engaged to conduct a physical survey of the property. Tests include taking samples of the soil and then testing them to determine the nature and extent of contamination.

Photo courtesy:  paul mccoubrie



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