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Contaminated land surveys

When is a contaminated land survey required?

Brownfield sites are often affected by the presence of contamination due to past industrial or waste disposal processes. Potential contamination is a material consideration. This means that where contamination is known or suspected the developer must provide a contaminated land survey to determine whether the proposed development can proceed and outline any mitigation measures proposed. Any Land Contamination Assessment should be in line with the details outlined in  Planning Policy Statement 23: Planning and Pollution Control (November 2004) If a contaminated land survey is not provided then the planning application will not be validated.

Further guidance

Further advice can be obtained from both the environment agency and contaminated land.

Our contaminated land guide

We are receiving an increasing number of planning applications for developments on or adjacent to previously used land, often referred to as 'brownfield' sites. These sites have generally been affected by the presence of contamination due to past industrial or waste disposal processes.

Government guidance (Planning Policy Statement 23) advises that potential contamination is a material planning consideration. This means that where contamination is known or suspected the developer should provide sufficient information to enable the Local Authority to determine whether the proposed development can proceed.

The onus is on the developer to disclose all relevant information when submitting planning applications or complying with planning conditions.

Assessing the risks

The investigation and risk assessment of contaminated land is divided in to three stages:

Stage One - Desk Study, Site Walkover and Preliminary Risk Assessment
Stage Two- Intrusive Site lnvestigation and Detailed Risk Assessment
Stage Three – Remediation strategy, risk management, validation report and monitoring

Not all sites will require all three stages to be carried out. It is therefore imperative that the developer consults the Local Authority Development Control and Environmental Health at each stage.

This advice relates to the Stage One Assessment

Checklist: Stage one

1.1 Aims and objectives of study

1.2 Credentials of person or organisation undertaking the study

1.3 Site location and current layout plans includinq NGR and service plans

1.4 Appraisal of site/vicinities development and land-use history

  • review historical maps, trade directories, deeds and planning records

1.5 Walkover survey to include:

  • observations of actual site layout
  • condition of soil and vegetation
  • condition of structures
  • description of surface material e.g. concrete, tarmac, gravel
  • identification of hotspot areas
  • photographs of the site
  • consideration of design of future intrusive investigations
  • proximity to surface water, including culverts, surface waters and drains

1.6 Assessment of environmental setting, to include:

  • geology, hydrogeology and hydrology
  • information on coal workings and other mining or quarrying activity (if appropriate)
  • information from Environment Agency on licensed abstractions, pollution incidents, water quality classification, landfill sites etc within 250 metres
  • information from Local Authority on former landfill sites, private water supplies, historic land-uses, pollution incidents etc within 250 metres
  • information on any ecological and archaeological features

1.7 Review of any previous site contamination studies (desk based or intrusive) or remediation works

1.8 Preliminary (qualitative) assessment of risks, to include:

  • an appraisal of potential contaminant sources, pathways and receptors (pollutant linkages)
  • an initial 'conceptual site model'
  • health and safety issues

1.9 Recommendations for intrusive contamination investigation, if necessary, detailinq rationale behind proposed design of investigation

Conceptual model

See below factors to include in model (this is not an exhaustive list)

  • ingestion/inhalation of dust and vapours
  • ingestion of food
  • migration of contamination to surface/groundwater
  • migration of contamination to buildings                

Things to remember

  • early consultation with LA and EA will ensure that any site investigation takes into account the requirements of all interested parties
  • all plans must be 1:2500 scale, include a North point and clearly show the site boundary
  • fulfilling the requirements within this leaflet will enable planning officers to make informed decisions on proposed developments
  • reports should be prepared by appropriately qualified professionals
  • three copies of the report should be delivered to the Planning Department who will pass information on to the relevant consultees
  • the size and complexity of the site must be reflected in the level of investigation and subsequent report
  • reports must include details of site ownership
  • failure to submit the correct information may result in refusal or delays in your application