01638 663 226

Newmarket Office:
Newmarket Business Centre,
341 Exning Road, Newmarket, CB8 0AT

020 30 39 39 44

London Office


Contaminated Land

Working with an in-house team of geo-environmental specialists, agb Environmental provides a comprehensive service on all aspects of the identification, assessment, remediation and validation of contaminated land.

Fully trained and equipped to deal with the full spectrum of common and more complex sites, our team has the experience and understanding needed to ensure that requirements are not only met but that the findings are fully integrated with the development project.

Our key areas of specialism include:

Planning Applications and Discharge of Planning Conditions

Ensuring that your project meets the expectations of the regulators and project stakeholders, our team delivers a full range of contaminated land assessments for planning applications and the discharge of planning conditions. Working within the protocol set out by Local Authorities, and within the British Standard BS10175:2012 and Environment Agency CLR11, we are able to assess each project on an individual basis to identify the most suitable approach. We are also regularly employed to undertake assessments on the behalf of developers seeking permitted development (PD) rights on a building.

Considering all contamination risks, including risks to human health and risks posed to ‘controlled waters’, as identified by the Local Authority and the Environment Agency respectively, we ensure that an entire ‘project management’ ethos is applied to any works carried out.

The need for this work is set out under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which details that the developer is required to demonstrate that the site is safe and suitable for use. However, Local Authorities can build upon this within their Local Plan and, in many cases, have very specific requirements.

Our specific services include:

Phase 2 Site Investigation

A site investigation (or ground investigation) will follow the desk study if the Conceptual Site Model and Preliminary Risk Assessment demonstrate that further assessment is required. Our extensive experience has enabled these assessments to take place across a wide variety of sites, including sensitive locations, areas of difficult access, residential plots and sloping ground.

Each site investigation is supported through our selected and appropriately accredited environmental laboratory, along with our in-house groundwater and ground gas monitoring using the latest equipment.

Our range of site investigation techniques include:

  • Hand augering (a low cost, shallow soil solution).
  • Trial pits (relatively low cost with good coverage for relatively shallow soils, can also be used for soakaway / soakage testing to BRE365)
  • Window sampling (relatively low cost, reasonable coverage with the advantage of being installed for ground gas and groundwater assessments)
  • Cable percussive drilling (achieves good depth in most soils, particularly useful for deeper groundwater and geotechnical assessments)
  • Rotary boreholes (typically for more complex sites or where on site time is limited)
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Risk Assessment

Following on from the site investigation, a Generic Quantitative Risk Assessment (GQRA) is prepared. Used to compare soils sourced from the site against industry developed concentration values, the soil is subjected to a pass or fail status based on the findings of the Conceptual Site Model and Preliminary Risk Assessment. A site with values less than appropriate means the site is not contaminated, however where a site fails, the next stage is typically a Detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment (DQRA).

Risk Assessments can be applied to soil or, more typically, controlled waters, known as groundwater and surface water. In our experience, the scope and cost of remediation can be significantly limited by undertaking this detailed risk assessment process, both through the savings made and a reduction in time delays.

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Remediation Options Appraisal

With the continued development of the remediation market, the number of remedial options is growing rapidly, with a much greater emphasis on specific techniques to resolve particular contamination challenges. Keeping up to date with current and developing technologies, we ensure that the technology best suited to our client’s project is selected.

The Remediation Options Appraisal (ROA) uses multiple criteria analysis to assess different remediation options against project requirements. The result is a report detailing the selected method of remediation and the rationale behind it.

This report can be used to brief the development team, seek outline approval from the regulators, including the Local Authority, Environment Agency and building warranty provider (such as the NHBC).

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Remediation Method Statement

The Remediation Method Statement (RMS) is a detailed report specifying the processes that are to be undertaken in delivering the selected remediation technology. With a variety of remediation skills available in-house, our team is able to detail the necessary and most effective solution for all development projects.

Taking into account the project objectives, our team is able to provide advice on the most time and cost effective solutions, whilst taking into account scheduling challenges and full compliance with all affecting regulators.

Specific advice is also provided on how to avoid cross contamination, management of the materials and waste, how to deal with unexpected contaminations and what verification works are required.

This statement is crucial to the progression of developments, forming an important signpost to the Project Manager and Site Manager. It will also need to be submitted to regulators, such as the Local Authority, Environment Agency and warranty providers such as the NHBC.

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Validation Reporting

Validation (also known as verification) is the process of demonstrating that the pollutant linkage (the source – pathway – receptor relationship) detailed by the Conceptual Site Model, has been broken; in essence that the remediation proposed has been successful.

The validation report is a critical document that details the work undertaken and appropriate sampling and analysis that was undertaken.  This document forms the basis of any sign off from the regulators.

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Due Diligence for Site Acquisition and Divestment

Understanding the environmental constraints of a potential acquisition is critical for minimising exposure to risk. We achieve this through a comprehensive site pre-acquisition or divestment assessment process.

In many cases, it may not be the current use of the site that has caused any environmental concerns; often environmental risk comes from either past uses or off site sources. Examples include landfills, petrol filling stations, gas works or other industrial land.

Our teams will provide you with a comprehensive report assessing the site, the setting, past uses and other nearby sites.


In the case of an acquisition, our report will detail the likely level of risk associated with the current use. If the acquisition is associated with a planned redevelopment project, the report will also include a review of the potential limitations on the future development. Our reports can be used to support financial backers and institutions in order to secure the funding needed for the project.


In the case of a divestment, our report will identify any areas of risk that a potential purchaser may face and use as leverage to reduce the purchase cost. We can advise on the most appropriate way to minimise this uncertainty and risk, thereby achieving the best sale price.

Housing Association

Many of the residential projects we have previously worked on have included a portion of social housing. On several occasions we have worked directly for the Housing Association. The process we follow is the industry standard approach of a phased investigation, taking care to ensure we understand our client’s and the Housing Association’s objectives.

In most cases, some form of Collateral Warranty or Letter of Reliance is required. We are happy to enter into these for the benefit of the Housing Association, subject to review of the specific wording.

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Waste Soil Management

Waste soil may be classed as either hazardous or non-hazardous as governed by waste legislation. The producer is required to undertake a waste characterisation exercise prior to disposal. In some cases, waste soil may be disposed of as inert waste, however this is demonstrated through assessment and appropriate analysis.

Advising clients to avoid the misconceived idea that Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) tests provides the classification, we work with the client to ensure the correct information is delivered to avoid possible increased waste disposal costs, and legally unsafe methods.

Our complete waste soil assessment service works with the development team to identify all waste streams of soil, undertake appropriate assessment and classification and then to define the most cost effective method of disposal (including the potential for re-use on site).

We have good links to various waste soil management facilities that can treat or dispose of waste soils, thereby maximising the options available to our clients. These include traditional hazardous and non-hazardous landfills, inert landfills, waste soil treatment centres and hubs.

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Foundations Works Risk Assessment

A Foundation Works Risk Assessment (FWRA) or Piling Risk Assessment sets out the potential for the foundation (commonly piling) operations to create contamination.

There are several ways in which contamination could occur, but all revolve around the source – pathway – receptor model, whereby a receptor is exposed to contamination directly as a result of the foundation works.

It is probable that there are multiple factors affecting the choice of foundations. Our in-house team works with the client to select the most suitable foundation solution, based on the development objectives and sensitivity of the site.

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Environmental Permitting

Environmental permits are issued by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) based on a variety of different site uses. Permit types include Standard or Bespoke, depending on the nature of the process and the site’s setting.

We are able to support the application for and compliance with any permit requiring environmental assessment, typically associated with H1 Environmental Risk Assessment or H5 Site Condition Report.

Our teams will work with the development team and will undertake the required liaison with the Environment Agency specialist teams.

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Turnkey Remediation Solutions

Our teams have significant experience in the assessment, design and delivery of various remediation solutions to identify the most cost and time effective remediation technologies for the project. We act as both a remediation consultant and contractor, and can easily bridge the gap between the two.

Working to best suit the needs and circumstances of the project, our teams can offer a turnkey service, in which we can design, install, operate and sign off the remediation process. Alternatively, we are able to act as either a consultant or contractor.

In many cases, we work alongside existing teams, such as civil engineers or groundworkers, or we can take the Principal Contractor role to deliver the remediation.

Remediation Processes

The process we follow will always depend on the specific needs and objectives of our clients, but the general process is set out below.

  • Define objectives.
  • Thorough investigation.
  • Risk assessment.
  • Remediation options appraisal.
  • Remediation method statement.
  • Remediation delivery.
  • Validation of remediation success.

This process ensures that all developments meet the criteria needed for its use, as set out by all afflicting regulators. This success rate is achieved by the above process, which allows a full understanding of the pressures and opportunities to maximise the effect of remediation.

Where no detailed risk assessment has taken place, we have the specialist skills in-house to ensure that only the required remediation takes place. This may be a Generic Quantitative Risk Assessment (GQRA) or Detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment (DQRA), depending on the circumstances of the project. In many cases, this process alone can significantly reduce the cost and the time required for the remediation.

Once the need for remediation has been fully defined, a Remediation Options Appraisal is developed based on the viable options and suited to the objectives of the project. For example, objectives may request costs reductions or limitations on time required for successful remediation.

This is presented for discussion with the development team to agree the most viable way forward. We then translate the agreed methodology into a Remediation Method Statement and arrange all of the paperwork, including appropriate licences and agreements with regulators before implementing the remediation work.

We regularly report on progress to the development team, ensuring that our clients stay fully informed throughout the process. Where required to do so, we provide reports and updates to the regulators, taking the burden and complexity away from off the remainder of the development team.

As the remediation is completed, we undertake the validation (also known as verification) in accordance with our RMS in order to demonstrate that the remediation has been successful.

Our remediation experience expends to:

  • Various heavy metals, including lead (Pb), Arsenic (As) and Chromium (Cr(VI)).
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), including Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP)
  • Various hydrocarbons in soil and groundwater (Principal Aquifers), including:
    • Petrol
    • Diesel
    • Mineral oils
    • Home heating oil (kerosene)
    • Thinners
    • Chlorinated solvents (such as degreasers).
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Why Remediation Is Required

Examples of why remediation is required include:

  • Planning Conditions (see details of Planning Applications and Discharge of Planning Conditions [link]).
  • Permitted development rights
  • Accidental spill or leak, for example from home heating oil tanks or through a historic industrial process.
  • Due diligence prior to the sale of a site, or surrender of a lease.
  • Voluntary remediation for peace of mind.
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Our Remediation Experience

We have experience of a wide range of technologies, including:

  • Risk assessment; demonstrating through comprehensive risk assessment that the risk is acceptable, or that the level of remediation require is much less than originally anticipated.
  • Excavation and disposal (often requiring our waste soil analysis and management services [link]).
  • Pump and treat; removing contaminated groundwater, treating it and either returning it to ground or surface water, or disposing off site.
  • Bioremediation; creating, supporting or enhancing the environmental conditions under which biological, physical and chemical degradation of contaminants occur.
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CPD Seminars for Development Professionals

We have established CPD Seminars to help up-skill your team when it comes to navigating environmental surveys for development. The Seminars cover various issues such as risks, timescales and design implications, and they offer practical guidance for your own workload and development.

Ground Investigation Techniques

Ground Investigation Techniques – Trial Pits

Ground investigation techniques vary depending on the objectives of the investigation, the strata, and logistical factors such as access. To assist with understanding what factors contribute to the decision on which technique to use, we have prepared a briefing note on the use of trial pits.

Dynamic Sampling

Ground Investigation Techniques – Dynamic Sampling

Ground investigation techniques vary depending on the objectives of the investigation, the strata, and logistical factors such as access. To assist with understanding what factors contribute to the decision on which technique to use, we have prepared a briefing note on the use of dynamic sampling techniques.


The real costs of Ground Investigation

How do you compare quotes of a ground investigation? If it is based solely on the grand total, you may not be getting the best value for money.


Importing Soils – Importing Liabilities?

One of the last jobs for a development is often the landscaping. After months of disruption, the natural soils on site are perhaps looking a bit “tired”, heavily compacted and very low on organic matter. So you import some good quality topsoil and plant into that, but will this hinder or assist your landscaping?


Benefits Of Retaining Trees On Development Sites

There are numerous benefits for retaining trees that developers should be aware of. Although often seemingly in the way of construction, trees can add value to your site and may also be protected by LPAs, therefore subjecting your development to planning constraints.