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Why you need a contaminated land assessment

Contaminated land desk study report

There are four reasons why you will need a contaminated land assessment:

  • The Local Planning Authority require it to validate a planning application (or discharge a planning condition).
  • You are buying or selling land and need to understand your exposure to environmental risk.
  • Your engineer or architect needs the information for the design.
  • You wish to reduce the risk of ‘unforeseen ground conditions’, which can delay a project – and significantly increase costs.

Whatever your reason for commissioning a contaminated land assessment, you will always need to start with a Phase 1 Desk Study. This document then identifies the objectives of the Phase 2 ground investigation.

Validating a planning application

You will normally need a contaminated land assessment to validate a planning application, especially on a site considered to be brownfield land.

Most councils require a contaminated land assessment before they even look at an application.

With that in mind it is sensible to include one in your initial work, and before finalising any plans. This could be something as basic as the Phase 1 Desk Study, to check any records that already exist about the site and determine if contamination is possible. Or you might prefer a more in-depth ground investigation. This will reduce the risk of an unpleasant surprise that could create serious delays – not to mention unexpected costs.

You can read more here.

Buying or selling land?

Protect your investment; undertaking a contaminated land assessment before buying land reduces the risk of an unforeseen liability later on.

A contaminated land assessment is a vital part of the buying process, and it is better done sooner rather than later. If there is an issue with the site, you could be held legally responsible – even if that issue has nothing to do with your occupancy, your use of the land, or any planned development.

Legally speaking, of course, the person who caused the contamination is the one who should deal with it. But all too often it is not possible to identify that person, even assuming they are still alive or in business. And if they are, they could still be exempted from responsibility. So the burden will usually fall either on the current landowner, or on whoever is now using that land.

Information for a design

A structural engineer may need a contaminated land assessment combined with a geotechnical ground investigation

To ensure the structural integrity of any proposed development it is essential to understand the ground conditions. Your engineer or architect will need to look carefully at any issues that could affect the work. For example, they may need this information to design the foundations, retaining walls, and pavement design, or to determine the correct concrete mix.

Unforeseen ground conditions

An early contaminated land assessment could well prevent serious problems during construction.

Unforeseen ground conditions can very quickly cause delays and additional costs.  A detailed contaminated land assessment and ground investigation will quickly mitigate this risk.

You may wish, for example, to check for any risk of instability or subsidence. It is also possible that conditions outside the site boundary could affect its stability. Not to mention the possibility of asbestos, or ground gas.

Prompt action pays

In many cases, of course, the ground survey will show that nothing needs to delay your work. But there are no guarantees, and even a supposedly greenfield site can produce surprises. So the sooner you arrange for a survey, better. If the results require action, you will need to minimise the impact on your development. And in some cases, of course, you may need to reconsider your entire plan.

Need to know more? Then give us a call on 01638 663226 or send us an email. We’ll be happy to give you our professional advice. And then discuss, and quote for, your specific requirements.

Contaminated Land