Is this something on your mind? If you own land and you’re looking to develop / re-develop then you probably should be asking this question, the regulators should also be asking the question before they allow any physical works to take place.
Answering the question starts with a Phase I report (that’s a one! I know that’s actually an I but it’s best represented in roman numerals) . A Phase I report is also known as a desktop study, although the more active environmental consultants do generally visit the site for a walkover assessment, the majority of the work is based on documented evidence of the history of the site. For example if your site was once occupied by gasworks, then there is a strong chance that soil and/or groundwater contamination is present. If it was greenfield then probably not.
Once you have a Phase I report, you should have a good indication of what to expect. Next is the Phase II, the physical investigation. We’ll cover that in the future, however this other post may help for now.