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 Laboratories

The problem of made ground

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The categorisation, analysis and reporting of ‘made ground’ is a recurring nightmare for the modern laboratory. Traditionally a by-product of land reclamation schemes, a container of the stuff can contain traces of anything from steel, concrete and brick to nappies and Coke cans – and that’s on a good day.

Ask anyone from the engineer taking samples at the coalface to the men in white coats analysing them, and you will find that there is no all-encompassing approach to deal with the ‘made ground’ conundrum. Nevertheless, with brownfield sites being universally hailed as the sustainable way forward, now, more than ever before, is the time to seriously evaluate the methods employed both on-site and in the laboratory and try to circumvent the insidious ‘no easy answer’ maxim.

Much of the confusion goes back to the introduction of the Environment Agency’s Monitoring Certification Scheme (MCERTS) for the chemical testing of soils. Any laboratory operating under this banner has to submit results that fulfil both the general requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 and the specific method validation and performance requirements of MCERTS. The latter is problematic for laboratories dealing with made ground, inasmuch as it requires samples to conform to specific sample matrices in order for the results to become accredited. For relatively unadulterated soils, this has meant the creation of soil classification categories such as ‘loamy soil’, ‘sandy soil’ or ‘clay type soil’. It is worth noting that while some geotechnical engineers may see this as a tenuous oversimplification, it is widely regarded as the best available approach and has the full endorsement of the Environment Agency and UKAS – albeit based on economical drivers. Made ground’s inherent ambiguity throws a rather obtrusive spanner in the works when faced with these basic matrices and prompts all manner of interpretive stances and questions. Some good starters for ten: can you report made ground results as accredited? Is it possible to report them as ‘unaccredited’ to make it clear to the engineer that the sample does not fall into a clear defined matrix?

It isn’t just an issue of categorisation – the whole process, from preparation to final report, is divested of any consistency as laboratories adopt their own approach by asking questions such as do we dry the sample? Do we mill the sample to uniform particle size? Do we discard anything over 2mm? Do we ignore everything that is not soil? None of these methods will provide an inaccurate result per se, but each has the potential to give a misleading picture of the site.

If, in addition to that head-scratching list of questions, you consider the fact that the commercially driven nature of redevelopment schemes has turned laboratories into high-tech, scientific conveyor belts, the complexities of the problem becomes increasingly pronounced. It is a crossroads situation reliant on good judgement, experience and, above all, a decent sample. It is impossible to overstate the critical nature of the latter point: without a comprehensive sample, the laboratory cannot do its job. In other words, it cannot capture the essence of a site’s industrial legacy and act as a signpost to the appropriate action.

Though MCERTS has to a certain extent raised the standards in the laboratory, it missed an opportunity by not offering any guidance to the geotechnical engineer on the best available techniques (BAT) for sampling, storage and transportation; nor does it elaborate on the consequences of incorrect, inappropriate or inadequate sampling. The reason the EA has put the onus on the laboratories is understandable – to allow continuity of testing pre- and post-MCERTS – but the resultant confusion and knowledge deficit, particularly with regards to sampling, is less than satisfactory.

As throwing legislation at the problem is unlikely to be constructive, the best achievable course of action is to engender a milieu of interdisciplinary compatibility fuelled by open lines of communication, intellectual communality and the symbiotic sharing of knowledge. Geoscientists should learn how to adequately describe their sample, how to make the sample manageable for the laboratory and to understand the laboratory machinations of sample preparation, analysis and reporting. By the same token, chemists should acquire some field experience, learn about the conditions engineers face on-site and educate themselves on the processes that inform geotechnical sampling techniques.

If the question of how to produce consistently accurate results from made ground is reducible to a single answer, it can only be to ask more questions: what are the limitations of the selected analytical method? If there are limitations, do they matter in this case? On what basis is the data reported? Does it match the basis on which my acceptance criteria are calculated? Has the sample data been generated in ideal conditions using ideal standards which are unlikely to represent the conditions on my site? Add a soupçon of communication, wait for MCERTS to catch up and we’re well on our way.

Andrew Buck PhD, MSc, CSci, CChem, FRSC is the Technical Director of Envirolab (

Article Contaminated Land Laboratories


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The Environment Agency’s Monitoring Certification Scheme for the Chemical Testing of Soils:
What it is. How it affects you. What you need to do.

MCERTS Monitoring Certification Schemes were first introduced in industrial sectors with regulated processes that resulted in stack emissions. The scheme requires those companies to deliver monitoring results that are “valid, reliable and accurate”. To get to this position depends on using the appropriate resources – correct test methods, competent personal, accredited organisations and suitable equipment and planning.

The MCERTS scheme for chemical testing of soils was introduced by the Environment Agency to support their regulatory activities and make informed, quality assessments on the management of contaminated land under a number of regimes, including, Part IIa of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations 2000 and the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994.

The scheme is applicable to all testing laboratories and procurers of analytical services, where results generated for the chemical testing of soil are submitted to the Agency. In order to gain accreditation on the scheme, laboratories are required to have their processes, essentially test methods, in a quality management framework, by both the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to the international standard ISO 17025 and also MCERTS requirements.

There are increasing pressures on businesses to comply with Environment Agency regulations and European and international standards. Using a laboratory with MCERTS accreditation alleviates some of this pressure because it guarantees the proper use of suitable methods, standards, services and equipment, trained and qualified personnel, quality assurance and quality control all leading to reliable data. MCERTS accreditation also assures users that the laboratory meets performance standards set out in current international standards and the growing requirements of EC directives.

Failure to meet the regulations can be costly, both financially and to a company’s reputation. An MCERTS accredited laboratory assures the user that they have met standards in a number of areas including:

  • The selection and validation of test methods

  • Sampling pre-treatment and preparation

  • The estimation of measurement uncertainty

  • Participation in proficiency testing schemes

  • The reporting of results and information

The benefits of the scheme include:

  • Providing assurance to stakeholders of the quality of data from testing

  • A level playing field, based on the Agency’s requirements, is established

  • Identifying that the chemical testing of soil is a critical component in producing defensible data for regulatory purposes.

In order to guarantee reliable data from the chemical testing of soils and therefore reassurance that risks are minimised, procurers of testing should:

  • Ensure the chemical analysis results submitted to the Agency for regulatory purposes conform to MCERTS requirements.

  • Check that the laboratory conducting the testing has MCERTS accreditation for all the parameters requiring analysis. Accreditation is given on a parameter-by-parameter basis. If they do not have the correct accreditation sub-contracting of the test required to another MCERTS laboratory may be required. If a suitable laboratory does not appear to be available, contact the Environment Agency for advice.

  • Check that the test methods employed by the laboratory are appropriate and fit for purpose in terms of the parameter, the Critical level of interest (CLI) and the matrix. The CLI may be a soil guideline value or a regulatory limit.

  • Check with the laboratory that the sampling processes, preservation and transportation are appropriate.

  • In collaboration with your chosen laboratory, have complete audit trails available that address aspects such as sample location, depth of sample, date and time of sample, reference identity and the laboratory used.

The MCERTS scheme for the chemical testing of soils was phased in, but has been fully operational since 1 March 2005. Therefore, all data for regulatory purposes should now be to the MCERTS standard. Laboratories and the procurers of testing need to work together to ensure that the test data provided meets the requirements and satisfies the needs of the ultimate client.

Cliff Billings Group Technical & Quality Manager STL UK


EA’s position on MCERTs

From 1st March 2005, the Environment Agency has required accreditation to our Monitoring Certification Scheme (MCERTS) where laboratory soil testing results are submitted to us as part of a regulatory regime for which we have statutory responsibility.

We strongly recommend that MCERTS accredited methods are used for soil testing in activities to do with site remediation, whether carried out on a voluntary basis or to comply with planning requirements. This is particularly important in relation to any waste management issues on the site.

Jackie Harrison Environment Agency

Contaminated Land Working Group Meetings

In recent meetings of the Contaminated Land Working Group, it has been clarified that the EA is a consultee but not a Statutory Regulator for planning applications. This means that MCERTs data may not always be required at the planning stage. Although the EA recommend MCERTS, the final decision is up to the Local Authority.

Some AGS Members feel that all tests should be to MCERTS so that the reports can be used at a later date. At present, the EA is expected to take a pragmatic approach to historical data obtained before the introduction of MCERTS and take account of whether the laboratory is now accredited, and other relevant factors. However, this may not always be the case, particularly for data collected after March 2005, and the need to ‘future proof’ data should be seriously considered.


Meet NHBC Requirements with MCERTS

The NHBC welcomes MCERTs accredited testing and supports it’s use in association with robust and representative soil sampling strategies when investigating sites affected by contamination. It brings transparency and consistency to the analytical testing techniques and encourages discussion between the consultants and testing laboratories which can only be a positive step forward.

Article Safety

Environmental Alert New Hazardous Waste Regulations

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The Hazardous Waste and List of Wastes Regulations have been introduced replacing the existing Special Waste Regulations 1996 and come into effect on 16th July 2005. The definition of hazardous waste now covers a wider range and includes common items such as fluorescent tubes, television sets and computer monitors. It also covers any product bearing an orange hazard-warning symbol, such as certain types of paints and mastics and also a broader range of contaminated soils.


Construction sites are classified as hazardous waste producers. The regulations will have a number of impacts on producers:

  • All producers of hazardous waste must register the premises at which the waste arises with the Environment Agency.

  • Producers must avoid mixing hazardous waste and non-hazardous wastes e.g. separate skips.

  • Producers must still complete a consignment note. There is a new format for consignment notes and guidance is available from the Environment Agency to assist with their completion.

  • The regulations require the Environment Agency to inspect producers of hazardous waste who can prosecute or issue a fixed penalty notice (£300) for the failure to comply with the requirements of the regulations.


All hazardous waste producers must notify their premises to the Environment Agency by the 15th July 2005 and every time a new site starts producing hazardous waste. It will be an offence to produce or remove hazardous waste from any premises that are not notified or exempt, after this date.

The notification which needs to be renewed after 12 months, will be accompanied by a registration code (or premises code) that must be written on all consignment notes.

A list of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ can be found at

Article Contaminated Land Data Management Laboratories

SGV Task Force

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The Soil Guideline Values Taskforce (SGV TF) is a joint initiative between Government Departments, local authorities and other private and public sector stakeholder groups with the primary objective of providing a means of improving the production programme for Soil Guideline Values.

The group was originally set up by the Cabinet Office Business Regulation Team in 2004 in response to perceived delays in the delivery programme for soil guidelines values. The task force originally comprised public sector bodies (Cabinet Office, ODPM, DEFRA, Food Standards Agency, Health Protection Agency and Environment Agency) who are instrumental in the production process. Following a workshop in November 2004 at which a wider cross-section of interested parties were present, the SGV TF was expanded and a number of other parties are represented on the current task force including the AGS.

Business in 2005 has focused on addressing four principal questions which were highlighted at the November workshop as being the most pressing-

i) What do SGVs mean and when should they be used?
ii) How do we speed up production?
iii) What do we do in situations when SGVs generated by the usual methods are very low (below ambient levels or close to or below detection limits)?
iv) What do we do about training and information dissemination?

Since the beginning of 2005 there have been three meetings of the expanded task force resulting in some good progress and interesting debate from various parties.

The first and very fundamental questions above has been considered by a sub-group of the task force. Their report will take the form of a draft guidance document on what an SGV is and how SGVs should be applied. This may in due course be released as part of the CLR series or as an addendum to an existing document.

The question of speeding up production of SGVs has occupied a significant amount of task force time. The EA has resource and time limitations which are also called upon in the programme for development of the CLEA UK model, release of which is expected this summer /autumn. Interesting debate revolves around whether SGV production should take precedence over further examination of the algorithms / assumptions in CLEA. (The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is particularly emphatic in their wish for the SGV’s to be produced as soon as possible). The AGS and EIC representatives have been more in favour of concentrating effort into refining models to attempt to reduce, or remove, some of the problems associated with “low” SGVs.

Positive moves have been made toward increasing production capability, including proposals to double the EA team by funding two new posts and by attempting to recruit a private sector secondee partially funded by public sector monies.

On other issues, a sub-group has been set up to identify training needs and to produce initial models of how these can be satisfied. In addition the EA has published on its website the first of what will be a series of bulletins on the CLEA programme.

Simon Edwards Merebrook Environmental Engineering Consultants

Article Contaminated Land Laboratories

PPC Site Reports – Change in EA Policy

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The Environment Agency issued a new policy and guidance on protection of land quality and preparation of site reports under the Integrated Pollution Prevention & Control (IPPC) regime in August 2003 ( The aim of the changes is to place more emphasis on pollution prevention measures within the PPC permit rather than site investigation at the time of application. It also hoped that the change will speed up processing of permit applications by the EA.

The site report accompanying the permit application (now referred to as the Application Site Report) should normally comprise the results of a desk study and site reconnaissance only. This is similar to a Phase 1a site report in the EA’s earlier terminology. Completion of intrusive investigations at this stage is NOT required except in special cases, e.g. there is insufficient data on site geology to develop the site conceptual model.

There is also now a requirement for operators to prepare a Site Protection and Monitoring Programme (SPMP) detailing how pollution of land will be prevented during the life of the installation. This has to be submitted to the EA within 2 months of the permit being issued.

Intrusive investigations to obtain ‘reference data’ (i.e. a Phase 1b or 2 assessment) are only required for zones of the site where there is ‘a reasonable possibility of future pollution of the land’ from installation activities. The guidance states that such investigations will always be required for sites with bulk storage of liquid chemicals, inadequate preventative measures or a history of pollution incidents unless it can be shown that there is little likelihood of future pollution occurring. The investigations will form part of the SPMP and where required have to be submitted to the EA within 6 months of the permit being issued.

The EA has also issued templates for the Application Site Report, design and reporting of a Site Protection & Monitoring Programme.

These changes apply to all sites in England and Wales where PPC permits have yet to be issued. Policy and guidance in Scotland and Northern Ireland currently remain unchanged. There are clearly implications for AGS members to ensure that appropriate advice is being provided to site operators applying for permits and that the most up-to-date guidance is being used.


Technical Guidance Note by IPPC H7
Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Guidance on the Protection of Land under the PPC Regime: Application Site Report and Site Protection and Monitoring Programme
H7 Reporting Template 1 – Template for an Application Site Report in PPC Applications
H7 Reporting Template 2 – Design of a Site Protection and Monitoring Programme for Installations Requiring Reference Data to be Collected
H7 Reporting Template 3 – Design of a Site Protection and Monitoring Programme for Installations that DO NOT Require Reference Data to be Collected
H7 Reporting Template 4 – First Phase Reporting of the Site Protection and Monitoring Programme for Installations where Reference Data is Required
H7 Reporting Template 5 – First Phase Reporting of the Site Protection and Monitoring Programme for Installations where Reference Data is NOT Required

These can all be downloaded at

Article Business Practice Contaminated Land Data Management Executive

AGS Response to Nigel Griffiths, MP

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On his appointment as Minister for Construction, Nigel Griffiths wrote to all trade associations and professional bodies and invited them to submit a concise briefing note on the issues which Members feel are vital to making Britain world leaders in construction. He indicated that he expected the note to raise our main concerns.

After discussion in the Working Group and the Executive Committee, the following response was sent on behalf of the AGS:

Making Britain World Leaders in Construction

The Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists (AGS) is a trade association representing almost 100 companies who are specialists in ground engineering. Activities range from geotechnical engineering, ground investigation, and the design of foundations, to the geotechnical and chemical analysis of soil, rock and water and the identification, assessment and remediation of contaminated land.

In responding to the invitation from Nigel Griffiths MP for a concise briefing note, we have concentrated on issues on which our Members specialise and which are within the field of Government influence.

Additionally, the AGS as a Member of the Ground Forum, fully supports the comments made by Ground Forum, particularly in respect of, i) the need for greater funding of post graduate courses in geotechnical engineering and engineering geology; and ii) the need for clarity (possibly via a register) in defining areas of engineering expertise in order that clients can identify specialists with appropriate qualifications and experience for their projects.

1. Inadequate Ground Investigation 

The amount spent on investigation of the ground prior to construction is typically 1% to 5% of the whole project value (usually the lower end of this range). The cost of claims and additional expenses due to unexpected ground conditions (i.e. unexpected because the site investigation was not adequate) can be as high as 50% of the total cost overrun on the project. Furthermore, some (generally smaller) developments do not have any ground investigation at all. We believe very strongly, that an adequate ground investigation should be a requirement of the planning process. We understand that consideration is being given to harmonising building and planning regulations. This therefore presents an ideal opportunity to introduce such a requirement. We therefore propose that the Minister actively supports and promotes the introduction of such a requirement into the harmonised regime.

2. Insurance 

The current difficulties in the availability and cost of Employers Liability and Public Liability insurance have affected AGS Members, as other businesses. However, the major concern has been the soaring cost of Professional Indemnity insurance. This is compounded by the continuing trend for clients (including public sector clients) to require higher and higher levels of insurance cover with high/ unlimited limits of liability, often totally disproportionate to the value of the fees involved. This is particularly the case in regard to work involving contaminated land. It is a common misconception in many client organisations that a consultant’s Professional Indemnity policy is there to cover any loss incurred by the client, however such a loss occurs. This is of course, not the case. A consultant’s Professional Indemnity in there to protect the consultant in the event of a successful claim of negligence. All consultants in the AGS have signed up to our own Code of Conduct which is designed to ensure the potential for negligent act or omission is minimised. In addition, most companies have their own Quality Assurance system (many accredited through the British Standards Institute to relevant international standards, e.g. ISO14001). It is also a fact that to date the number of successful claims specific to our industry is very low.

It is therefore unfairly onerous on the industry for clients to require levels of Professional Indemnity cover and limitations of liability which are often out of all proportion to the fee charged for the services offered by our members (e.g. a liability level of £5m is commonly required for a project with a consultancy fee of less than £2,000). Such a requirement is particularly disadvantageous to small companies who are simply unable to obtain such cover, and are therefore excluded from contracts even when they have appropriate expertise and/ or relevant local knowledge.

Government and other public sector clients could helpfully demonstrate best practice in this respect by entering into such contracts with appropriate requirements for insurance (both level of cover and limit of liability) which reflect inter alia the fee for the project.

3. Onerous terms in Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) contracts

Members work for RDAs in connection with the assessment and remediation of contaminated land. The standard RDA contract terms require the consultant / contractor to provide a collateral warranty with unlimited liability for anyone using the site in the future, and to ensure that the site is ‘fit for purpose’ This is unreasonable on two counts:-

i) Neither unlimited indemnity nor ‘fitness for purpose’ can be covered by insurance . In the event of a successful claim therefore, the only recourse for the company will be to close down and surrender all their assets. This is a totally unacceptable way to enter into a contract.

ii) Contaminated land can be cleaned to a variety of standards, (e.g. the standard required for a factory car park is lower than that required for housing). It is not reasonable to expect the consultant /contractor, working to a specification (given by the RDA client) to warrant that the site will be suitable for all purposes and all users in the future – which is the legal implication of these terms. The normal standard is to warrant that the work has been carried out with due care and diligence.

RDAs (or their legal advisers) argue that their public duty requires these contract terms and that they will be held to account should a problem arise and the consultant/contractor is found to have limited liability. In reality, they are limiting their selection of consultants and contractors to the small number of concerns who are prepared, for what ever reason, to take the unreasonable risks that these contract terms represent. Furthermore, in pursuing this policy RDAs are endangering the Government’s targets for the redevelopment of brownfield land.

The Minister could usefully explore this matter with RDAs to ensure that an appropriate balance is obtained between the need to demonstrate appropriate accountability for public monies with the necessity of redeveloping brownfield land.

4. Environment Agency

Notwithstanding liaising with Environment Agency officials in our Committee and Working Group, in day to day, site specific activities, our members invariably find interaction with the Environment Agency extremely frustrating for a number of reasons:-

i) There is no consistency between local offices. Although the specialists in the EA issue guidance (generally after public consultation), there is no onus on local offices to follow the guidance. Consequently each office (and each officer within that office) follows their own understanding of how to implement the policy/guidance. Consequently a development which would be permitted in one area, in another faces undue, excessive costs, delays and may eventually be refused permission.

ii) There appears to be no way of appealing against a decision made by a local office even when higher officials acknowledge that the decision is wrong. The process of appeal is very unclear and local offices appear to have unchallengeable autonomy.

iii) Guidance essential to the development of brownfield land is delayed – often for years. For instance, only a very small number of soil guideline values (that specify the permissible amount of certain toxic chemicals in soil) have been issued. Chemicals not covered by SGV’s must be assessed in some other (unspecified) way. The EA has the right to reject the conclusion of the consultant if officials do not agree with the methodology. The local authority regulator is therefore in an impossible situation when trying to assess proposals for brownfield land redevelopment (particularly for housing schemes). The recent disbandment of the National Centre will exacerbate this problem.

iv) EA policy leads to uncertainty. Developers expect their consultants to be able to advise on the measures which must be taken in order to obtain planning permission. Because of the uncertainties (above), consultants cannot be confident in their advice. However, if the consultant’s advice turns out to be unacceptable to the EA (resulting in additional costs and delays) the client may try to recover costs from the consultant’s insurance – putting further pressure on insurance requirements and the viability of consultants businesses. (See Item 2).

Action, direction and resources to rectify these problems at the Environment Agency need to come from Government. The Environment Agency is not currently fulfilling its stated functions with an appropriate balance. Unless improved guidance, consistency and expertise is forthcoming from the Environment Agency, the Government targets for the remediation and redevelopment of brownfield sites will be seriously jeopardised.

5. Waste Management Licensing 

It is becoming increasingly clear that regeneration projects on brownfield sites are being frustrated by Waste Management Legislation and the Environment Agency’s approach to its implementation. The crux of the problem is the recent move by the Environment Agency to interpret the definition of waste more restrictively. The result is that a considerable number of practices on site that were not previously considered necessary to regulate now fall within waste management legislation. The consequence of this is as follows:

i) The requirement for / presence of a Waste Management License (WML) on a development site will severely inhibit redevelopment potential of many sites. This is particularly the case for re-development of large sites where phased development is the only way to make the redevelopment process financially viable. The presence of an active WML on a housing development would effectively prevent sale of homes during the development programme.

(ii) Property Blight: New houses built on ‘licensed’ land are often seen as being built on the equivalent of ‘Waste Tips’ resulting in loss of value. A recent RICS report suggests the negative effect on property prices can be as much as 40%

(iii) Loss of potential for re-use of site derived soils: The reluctance of construction companies to operate waste management licenses will result in materials defined as waste being removed to landfill rather than being re-used as secondary aggregates (and the consequent need to import virgin aggregates from quarries and pits, entailing haulage and other environmental impacts of quarrying).

DEFRA and ODPM are developing the option of a Single Regeneration Permit to overcome the problems highlighted above. In reality however, the government is progressing inappropriate and increasingly restrictive legislation in isolation of the legitimate needs of the construction industry. It is important to note that other European countries are not interpreting the legislation in the same way and are not imposing similar constraints on their construction industries. This restrictive approach will jeopardise the achievement of the Government’s target of 60% of new homes on brownfield sites. Government is therefore urged to address this matter will all interested parties and in particular the Environment Agency.

Article Contaminated Land

New Guidance from the Environment Agency

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Secondary Model Procedure for the Development of Appropriate Soil Sampling Strategies for Land Contamination  (Technical Report P5-066/TR)

Prepared by Monitor Consultants for the Environment Agency and the DETR, the Secondary Model Procedures describe the procedural approach for specific activities that support, or are part of, risk assessment, the evaluation and selection of remedial measures, and  the implementation of risk management measures (which are intended to be covered in the primary model procedures).

Technical Aspects of Site Investigation – Volumes I and II 
(Technical Report P5-065/TR)

Supporting technical guidance for specific activities that are part of the activities covered by the primary and secondary procedures.

The above documents are available from:  Environment Agency R&D Dissemination Centre, c/o WRC Frankland Road, Swindon, Wilts  SN5 8YF   Tel: 01793 865 000    Fax: 01793 514 562  email

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.