Report Contaminated Land

Contaminated Land Working Group Report

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Neil Parry, Chairman, CLG writes:

Our last meeting was held on 10th January 2015, 17 members attended. Below is a summary of ongoing activities.

Environment Agency (EA)

Further to the meeting with Bob MacIntyre (EA Hazardous Waste) a further (or extended) Working Group meeting is proposed once the Waste classification and assessment Technical Guidance WM3 has been published. Agreement from the Main Committee was required (Ann-Marie to forward additional room costs).


A separate working group has been set up to look into sampling protocols for contaminated soil and waste. We have been in contact with Murray Lark from the BGS and he has agreed to contribute to the sub group.


Karen Thornton reported on the statistics for NHBC and research projects on low energy, SUDS, soil stabilisation. A new Basement Construction chapter 5.4. A full review of standards is due to take place up to April this year.

Land Forum

Chaired by Seamus Lefroy-Brooks. Work being carried out on QMLC Scheme for competence.


SAGTA held a meeting at the beginning of February. It was agreed that Karen Thornton would feed back information from the meeting to the CLWG.


A panel discussion on asbestos will be held on Members’ day.


Further to the AGS Position Statement on the UKWIR guidance (guidance for the selection of water pipes in contaminated land) further monitoring of the general water company requirements will be carried out.


Roger Clarke reported that there has been a drive for more assessors as the numbers in SiLC increase.


Code of practice for the characterization and remediation from ground gas in affected developments. Some progress on the new draft reported by CLWG members involved.

Article Contaminated Land

Mobile Plant Licences to become “Simpler, Faster, Lower-cost & Consistent”

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A joint Government and Industry Task Force established towards the end of 2004 has now reached agreement on the best way to resolve problems concerned with mobile plant licensing.

The Task Force was ask to deal with three main problems:-

1. Multiple licenses operated across multiple sites 2. Inconsistency in enforcement and no single point of contact for operators. 3. Speed of applications and poor clarity of information requirements.

Under the new system a single license (to be called a Mobile Treatment Licence) will be issued for a given remediation technology. The license will be able to be utilised across multiple sites. A new ‘Deployment Form’ will be adopted which will identify all key data including the applicants account manager, any site specific information and a guide as to what other permits may possibly be required.

A system of EA Account Managers will be established providing improved accountability, better communication and a single point of contact for industry –

The new system is expected to have a number of beneficial effects – not least of which will be a significant reduction in the regulatory burden placed on operators – and hopefully a reduction in the cost when plant is not in use.

It is also hoped that the reduced cost and more efficient bureaucracy will encourage the development of new technologies and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Application forms and guidance for the new MTL will be available from October. Existing holders of MPL should have been contacted by the EA in early June and will be sent a further letter in due course to explain what they have to do to obtain the new licence. There will be a 6 month transition period and existing licences will be valid until April 2006.

Finally, changes to the Waste Regulations which came into effect on 1 July have broadened the definition of mobile plant. Previously this only covered soil, but now covers the treatment of contaminated materials, substances and products (e.g. the treatment of groundwater).

For information on who to contact regarding licences call the EA National Customer Contact Centre on 0870 8506506 – or local EA offices (although they will not have information until nearer October.)

Article Business Practice Contaminated Land

Environment Agency Draft Policy on “Building on or Adjacent to Gassing Landfill Sites”

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This draft document was published as a draft for consultation in July 02. It sets out EA policy on how they should respond to consultations from planning authorities regarding sites on or adjacent to landfills. The major concern is the reliance on the trigger concentration of 1% for methane where housing development is proposed. The guidance highlights that this applies to sites with the potential to generate ‘significant quantities of gas’. Although the document is silent on a definition of ‘significant quantities’, recent thinking presented by the EA suggests a reservoir of gas in the ground not necessarily associated with active generation would be considered ‘significant quantities’.

AGS is concerned that this policy could prove very restrictive and could result in a significant number of brownfield sites not being developable.

AGS is keen to establish the experience of members as to whether this policy is creating obstacles to development in order to make a more strenuous approach to the EA. If anyone has any useful experiences (either one way or the other) please send details to; Peter Witherington (

Article Contaminated Land

Report on Remediation and Waste Management Regulation Regime Seminar

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By Rob Frost and Hugh Mallett (Enviros Aspinwall)


To bring the UK into line with the EC Waste Framework Directive the Environment Agency (EA) has issued guidance on the application of waste management licences to remediation. This guidance states that contaminants are “waste” as they have been “abandoned” or “control of them has been lost”  because the soil is not discrete from the contaminants that too will be considered waste. In particular circumstances uncontaminated natural arisings from service and foundation excavations on development sites could also be considered waste. The implications of this are that most, if not all, development sites will either require an exemption from Waste Management Licensing or will operate under a Waste Management Site Licence.

Position Paper

The consequences of this guidance are significant in terms of remediation and the redevelopment of brownfield sites.  The AGS therefore published a Position Paper setting out the industry’s concerns (AGS web site) and this paper formed the Agenda for the Seminar with the EA, held at the Institute of Civil Engineers and attended by over 70 delegates.


The scene was set by Peter Witherington (Chair of the Contaminated Land Group) who outlined the main concerns described in the Paper.  David Baker (House Builders Federation) then described how the EA Guidance and its interpretation could severely dent the Government targets for redevelopment (60% of new homes on brownfield sites).

Paul Needham of the EA Waste Division then described the EA position with regard to the EC Directive and its interpretation in their Guidance.  He responded specifically to the AGS Position Paper;

  • The EA should not seek a Waste Management Licence for the movement of clean natural soil.
  • Geotechnical processes which generate material should not be classified as waste.
  • Minor re-grading will not normally require a Waste Management Licence (minor not defined).
  • Cover systems may require a Waste Management Licence.
  • Exemptions from Waste Management Licences will be granted for material processed through mobile plant or material that is less than 2500m3and remains at the site of origin.
  • Even if material has a use on site this does not preclude it from regulatory control.

An animated Question and Answer session followed during which the EA failed to satisfactorily respond to the concerns raised in the Position Paper.  The main conclusions of delegates were that;

  1. The Guidance appears to be designed to move remedial strategies away from encapsulation and towards in situ or ex situ on site treatment of soils.
  2. The Guidance appears to be at odds with the principles of risk assessment and sustainability in land development
  3. There is an unresolved incompatibility in the EA’s position which requires that the same Waste Management controls are equally applicable to “landfill as they are to the remediation/ redevelopment of marginally contaminated soils.

Following the Seminar three actions have been undertaken by the AGS;

  1. The AGS was invited to join the “Single Remediation Working Group”. This Group has support from both DEFRA and the EA and has as its prime objective the definition of a dedicated regime for remediation.  Simon Edwards (Merebrook) is the AGS representative and the Group had its first meeting in December.
  2. The AGS has written to the Environment Agency with an offer to assist in their forthcoming revisions of the Guidance on Waste Management.
  3. A written response to the Position Paper has been received from the EA which will now be up-dated.

Members with an interest and/ or experiences associated with Waste Management Licensing and remediation are encouraged to share information with the Contaminated Land Group.  This will be vital in ensuring that the Single Remediation Working Group can properly address industry’s concerns in this most important area of our work.

A copy of the AGS Position Paper can be found on the website.  A flow chart to help decide ‘Is it Waste’ can also be found.