In 1995, new legislation relating to due diligence in contaminated land development was passed within part 2A of the revised Environmental Protection Act. The Act focused upon wide-ranging environmental issues, including air pollution, GMP products and harmful emissions. It also featured improved guidelines for the requirement to survey land in more depth in order to identify and manage contamination levels. This aspect of the Act became mandatory in April 2000 in England, and July 2001 in Wales.

Why Businesses May Be Required to Conduct Contaminated Land Surveys

As part of the overall planning permission process through Local Authorities, councils may request that developers wishing to use certain spaces engage experts to provide the Environmental Impact assessment. This is to investigate the proposed area to be built on with a view to determining levels of contamination and implementing proactive steps to improve the land prior to developing upon it.

Under the regime, the Environmental Agency may also enforce the requirement to investigate the standard of land if they suspect that it is either causing, or may cause, significant harm to the population if no mitigating action is taken to clean it to the required standards. Contaminated land studies by environmental consultants are predominantly required in order to assess the potential impact of planned future development, taking into consideration aspects such as water purity, sensitive wildlife habitats and pollution, all of this data, of course being supplied to their client.

Activities Involved in a Contaminated Land Survey Contamination assessments involve a range of services, including engineering, soil analysis, desk-top studies, ground water sampling and other investigations. All environmental desk studies are performed against the guidelines for best practice issued by the National Planning Policy framework in 2012 and the BS10175:2011+A1:2013 standards.

Both contaminated land surveys and soil contamination investigations tend to be carried out in two phases. The first phase is usually the desk-top survey, while the second element is the ‘Invasive’ survey, which incorporates a range of tests conducted using sampling and analysis.

Within the Phase 1 study, the consultant will usually develop an environmental report which uses conceptual modelling in order to undertake an assessment of potential contaminants and associated levels of risk ascribed to each.

To undertake the Phase 1 study, the consultant will perform a site ‘walkover’ which includes a visual survey of the land to identify any areas of potential contamination. This preliminary investigation forms the basis for developing the investigative mode for the second, more involved phase of analysis, this stage being where all the testing actually occurs.

Phase 2 –The Technical Ground Assessment

The ‘Intrusive’ study, termed ‘Phase II’, is a much more in-depth exploration of the land to be assessed. Using the data gathered during the initial phase, the consultants will collate a series of samples from the environment, including soil and groundwater. All of the collected samples are logged to enable the surveyor to undertake soil profiling based upon the location from which each sample was obtained.

Level of Contamination

Once all relevant and required samples have been gathered, they are then submitted for chemical analysis to determine levels of contamination. When the results of the levels of contamination are identified and reported, it’s possible for the surveyor to then create a tailored report based upon the findings from the analysis. Within the report, the surveyor produces a risk register detailing levels of contamination which provides a full assessment of indicated issues, and then an associated plan for mitigating the harm from the receptors within the exact location and in the surrounding environment, this guidance being a vital part of the process. This data is also very useful when it comes to considering the options / management of any remediation works.

Geo-Environmental and Geo-Technical Investigations

In addition to sampling and analysis, specialist consultants may also conduct geotechnical investigations to obtain information relating to the physical properties of the land, including soil and rock assessments, to ensure that proposed structural developments can be undertaken safely. By analysing sub-surface conditions, the geo-technical engineer can measure the thermal resistivity of soil in order to determine the ideal approach to implementing oil or gas pipelines, solar thermal storage facilities or waste disposal proposals.

Geotechnical analysis may include surface exploration, sub-surface investigation of land and sampling of soil and rock to test properties and determine contamination levels. Test pits, boring, slide plane location and fault mapping may all provide additional data for assessment and analysis.

Effective land contamination studies leverage the expertise of skilled and experienced surveyors adept in conducting both phases of the investigation in order to produce a unique profile of the land being assessed and develop a bespoke strategy for mitigating contamination based upon the requirements of the study and the needs of the organisation commissioning the service.

Skilled consultants will work closely with the commissioner, ensuring that the strategy for managing the contamination is fully tailored and appropriate to their unique needs while maintaining the regulatory standards to comply with all recent legislation pertaining to environmental sustainability, safety and reduction in contamination.

Experienced and accredited land surveyors will remain abreast of all existing and emerging legislation to ensure that the study is conducted in accordance with all local and national requirements. All reports are compliant with both local and national regulations, providing an accurate and detailed assessment of the area being investigated and a clear strategy for managing any issues determined through the Contaminated Land survey.

If you want to find out why the reports created by Argyll Environmental are of such a high quality, please see our case studies as there you will be able to see the level of care and input we take in very case regardless of the client type or industry sector.

Need something else?

These consultancy services have been designed to support the redevelopment, transaction, corporate decision-making or investment(s) in land and property. If you require something more bespoke, or a variation of any of the listed services, then we would love to hear from you.

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