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When to Consider Land Contamination

With the assessment of potential land contamination being a key part of the planning processes, it is important to consider how best to approach this element of your project.

For most projects, there are two routes to choose:

  1. Submit a Phase 1 Desk Study to validate the planning application.

A Phase 1 Desk Study is completed and provided to validate the planning application. Subsequent land contaminated assessment, if required, is then undertaken to assist in discharging planning conditions. The main advantages to this approach include:

  • Low up front cost will reduce any abortive costs should the application be rejected. (Typically for reasons other than contaminated land).
  • For low risk sites, seeking approval for no further assessment may be feasible without the need to return to the planning authority.

In this case, the development approved by planning is unlikely to be adjusted to suit the findings of any contamination assessment. (Without returning to the planners).

  1. Submit a Phase 1 Desk Study and preliminary Phase 2 Site Investigation with the planning application.

This approach tends to be a higher cost upfront, though there is unlikely to be any difference overall in the longer term. This approach is advantageous when:

  • The development has to go ahead, no matter what (for example a school extension).
  • The final proposals can be influenced by the findings of the Site Investigation. (The site Investigation will influence the planning submission).
  • Remediation requirements may be used to support the justification for the development.
  • A Joint Venture approach (or similar) where knowledge of the site conditions is required prior to investing in a planning application.

It is worth noting, however, that there are a few Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) that require the consideration of land contamination only to be undertaken through sequential planning conditions in a stepwise process. In these cases, there is little advantage to undertaking any preliminary Phase 2 work. This is because it is unlikely to meet their requirements (or accept that there may be a need for updates). Agb Environmental has extensive experience of dealing with a variety of LPAs.

The Contaminated Land team at agb Environmental has extensive experience of navigating the contaminated land assessment process. Contact Simon Pike, Principal Consultant on simon@agbenvironmental.co.uk or 01638 663226 for more information.

Contaminated Land, News