Land and soil

A hand holding soil


Soil is a fundamental and irreplaceable natural resource. It is a vital part of the ecosystem and essential for a thriving farming sector. It is however, under threat from factors such as construction, industrial waste and over-use of nitrates in farming.

Soil policy focuses on the ways in which we can address the various threats to soil and build resilience to increasing pressures in order to provide a sustainable food supply and cope with our changing climate.

Domestically, the Soil Strategy for England (published in September 2009) underpins this area of Defra’s work. In Europe, negotiations continue on the draft Soil Framework Directive.

Our soil pages give more detail on how these threats are being addressed.

Land and contamination

The UK has a legacy of contaminated land, much of it caused by industrial and domestic pollution. Land contamination can pose a threat to the environment and the health of humans, animals and plants. Policy in this area addresses:

  • Measures to find and deal with existing contaminated land.
  • Measures to prevent more contaminated land being created. These include policy and legislation on pollution, waste, water and chemicals.

For more details on land and contamination see our contaminated land pages.

Latest news

A joint public consultation by Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government has been launched on changes to the contaminated land regime under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The consultation closes on Tuesday 15 March 2011.

The Contaminated Land Capital Grant Scheme is designed to fund the cost of investigating possible land contamination and then remediate the contaminated land. The scheme is funded by Defra and now delivered by the Environment Agency, and is open exclusively to local authorities.

Page last modified: 21 December 2010