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 Contaminated Land

The Landfill Directive – Nightmare or Opportunity

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[These notes were made after attending an EIC Seminar on the Landfill Directive held on 31 March 04. They represent the view of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the AGS.]


The European Landfill Directive (EC 2003/33) is due to be transposed into UK Law by 16 July 04, and be fully effective from 16 July 05. Transition arrangements for waste acceptance criteria will be in place from July 04 to July 05.

Legislative Background

The Landfill Directive sits with the Hazardous Waste Directive and the Waste Framework Directive.

The latter two have been in force for a number of years but will be effected by the Landfill Directive.

An updated European Waste Catalogue (EWC 2002) has now been published and this sets out which materials are (or potentially are) hazardous.

The EWC gives absolute and mirror entries. Absolute are classified as hazardous irrespective of their composition whereas mirror entries need to be checked for contaminants (both type and concentration).

The classification links back to CHIP3 regulations which are published by the HSE.

Waste sent to landfill will now be classified as hazardous or non-hazardous. The use of ‘inert’ seems no longer applicable.

Waste acceptance criteria (WAC) are shortly to be approved by the European Council and these will link into the Landfill Directive. The WAC require leaching tests to be carried out and limit a number of criteria which cannot be exceeded (eg TOC never above 6%). WAC is not due to be introduced until 2005 and interim criteria will be established to fill the gap.

The principle regulations

  • Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999

  • The Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002

  • The Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003

  • The Landfill (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2004

The Landfill Directive’s Rules

All hazardous waste sent to landfill must be pre-treated from July 04. No definition has been given as to what this means. However some reduction quantity and / or hazardous nature will have to be achieved.

Dilution (eg mixing of non-hazardous with hazardous) will be illegal from July 04.

Co-disposal is illegal from July 04 and sites will only be licensed to receive hazardous or non-hazardous. The most significant issue is that the number of sites licensed to receive hazardous waste will reduce from slightly less that 200 to about 10. Of these none re are located in Wales or the South East of England.


The latest definition of waste within the UK is that waste ‘shall mean any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard’.

The hierarchy of waste treatment is re-use, reclaim, recover and recycle.

A waste remains as waste until complete recovery has taken place or the substance is put to its final use. It does not cease to be waste if someone intends to use it, if it has a value, if it is ready to recycle or if it is not polluting.

Environment Agency guidance indicates that all excavated contaminated land would be classified as waste.

It would appear that even excavated ‘clean’ soil on site may be classified as waste and thus and re-use would fall within the waste management licensing regulations.

What it all means

Despite the assembled hoard of experts at the Seminar, no-one really knew!

Confusion and uncertainty surround the issue, although something must happen in July to avoid serious Government embarrassment.

Some theories were:-

  • Landfill prices for hazardous waste are likely increase fourfold.

  • Haul distances will increase from an average today of 44 miles to 87 in 05.

  • Remediation by ‘dig and dump’ will become non viable in most situations

  • On-site remediation will to have increase dramatically but there is insufficient capacity in the UK to accommodate the probable demand

  • Many brownfield sites are likely to become non viable for development and consequently the Government objective of 60% development on Brownfield sites may be jeopardised.

Article Contaminated Land Laboratories Loss Prevention

Letter to the Editor

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Dear AGS,

Are AGS Members aware of the potential impact Japanese Knotweed (JKW) may have on the development of sites?

If this is not identified when carrying out walk over surveys and ground investigations, the additional cost to the client of clearing the plant from site and the possibility that the ‘Ground Investigation Specialist’ could be blamed for not identifying it in the first place as a potential ‘contaminant’, could result in significant potential liabilities, e.g. A site in the Midlands is currently clearing JKW off site at a cost of over £250,000, as an extra over cost!

The AGS and current British Standards for ground investigation (reporting guidelines) do not appear to specifically cover such potential ‘contaminants’. Should we not be providing advice to both Geotechnical/ Geo- Environmental specialists/ Clients etc in how to identify these invasive plants or at least provide them with guidance as to what specialists should be appointed to identify and deal with such problems? Is this part of our role? What do members think? The EA currently provide guidance notes on their web site

In addition the implications of a ground investigation contractor spreading the JKW by vehicle wheels/tracks, samples etc could again be costly. Whilst this weed is widely distributed in Cornwall and Wales, its encroachment into other parts of the UK is rapid.

Any comments or discussion back would be appreciated.
Chris Eaton, Geotechnical Developments (UK) Ltd

A Knotty Problem

Japanese Knotweed is an invasive perennial that can hinder the growth of many native species of plant. It can grow to around 3m high and expands rapidly once it takes hold of a site.

Japanese Knotweed was introduced to the UK during the 19th century as an ornamental plant and can be spread easily from the movement of contaminated soil. The plant is characterised by thick canes with red shoots and bears white flowers. It is notoriously robust and can survive being cut back due to an extensive underground root system.

The Wildlife & Countryside Act of 1981 makes it an offence to spread Japanese Knotweed and any excavated soil that is taken off site must be disposed of at a licensed landfill site.

The Environment Agency website: contains very useful information about knotweed, how to deal with it, and what precautions need to be taken if it is encountered on site