Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC) Affiliate Scheme Video

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Tags: Featured SiLC

As part of the initiative to promote the SiLC Affiliate Scheme (, individual SiLCs have done a grand job in sending in video clips using their mobile phones and telling why they get excited about contaminated land, why they came into the profession and why they became a SiLC ( and SQP. Watch it and see what they have to say. None of the responses were scripted. Each contributer was sent a short list of questions and whatever they say is in their own words. The contributers also provided the interesting photographs that you will see in the video. An SQP is a registered individual under the National Quality Mark Scheme (NQMS) (

The video ( is directed at young people, particularly undergraduates or graduates, with one of the purposes being to encourage them to look at the geoenvironmental industry as a career path. However, others who are more advanced in their careers can also join the scheme and many have done so.

All the contributers to this video show that they are confident in the profession they have chosen and talk with such contagious enthusiasm that ‘who would not want to join them’ in such a rewarding career. They talk with passion about the variety of work that they get involved in, ‘never a dull moment’ as they say, and the variety of disciplines with which they interact.

To become a SiLC first requires chartered status and then the passing of the SiLC exam. The SiLC Affiliate Scheme was developed to assists new graduates, as well as those with more experience, to work towards full membership and chartered status of a professional body with guidance from a professional body advisor, and then progress towards SiLC/SQP registration with the assistance of a SiLC mentor. A key aspect of the scheme is the mentoring which will be provided to assist those on the scheme to progress towards recognised qualifications which will be a demonstration of their experience and capability in contaminated land and brownfield regeneration.

Have a look at the video to decide whether this scheme is right for you. Details of how to join are on the SiLC website (see above for link). The flyer for the SiLC Affiliate Scheme can be viewed here.


SiLC perspective on publication of Environment Agency guidance Land Contamination Risk Management (LCRM)

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By Dr. Tom Henman, Deputy Chair, Professional & Technical Panel, SiLC PTP

After a delay due to Covid-19, Land Contamination Risk Management (LCRM) was finally published by the Environment Agency in October 2020. LCRM replaces CLR11 Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination as guidance and the framework for all who are involved in or responsible for managing risks from land contamination in England.

The overall approach to risk management and remediation in LCRM is the same as the withdrawn Model Procedures for the Management of Contaminated Land (CLR11). However, two key elements are prominent in LCRM –which are particularly relevant to SiLC – relating to competence and the National Quality Mark Scheme for Land Contamination Management (NQMS).

LCRM makes prominent reference to the NQMS, which is a voluntary scheme set up by the National Brownfield Forum, and designed to improve confidence in the quality of land contamination reports. Suitably Qualified Persons (SQPs) who sign-off NQMS reports are accredited through the SiLC examination process and the SiLC Professional and Technical Panel is a strong advocate of the NQMS.

As well as highlighting the value of applying the NQMS to reports, LCRM also stresses the importance of identifying any uncertainties and limitations of data and any possible consequences. This is a mandatory requirement for sign-off of reports registered under the NQMS.

LCRM also states the expectation that those undertaking land contamination assessment and remediation will be competent at all stages. This means having the appropriate knowledge, skills, experience and qualifications in each specific area of LCRM and the type of contamination being dealt with. For planning related assessments, LCRM also refers to the National Planning Policy Framework definition of a competent person, i.e. ‘with a recognised relevant qualification, sufficient experience in dealing with the type(s) of pollution or land instability, and membership of a relevant professional organisation’. The SiLC Register was developed precisely with these considerations in mind, so this emphasis on competence is welcomed. Both SiLC and SQPs registered under the NQMS are referenced specifically in LCRM as appropriate qualifications to demonstrate competence.

Overall, SiLC welcomes the new guidance and its emphasis on high quality assessments by competent professionals as well as the application of the NQMS. For more information about the SiLC Register, please visit

Notes on SiLC:

The Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC) Register scheme was designed to support the recommendations of the Urban Task Force in 1999 and to recognise the skills of those working in the broader land condition sector.

A registered SiLC is a senior practitioner who has a broad awareness, knowledge and understanding of land condition issues, providing impartial and professional advice in their field of expertise. Entry to SiLC is gained through examination, which is held bi-annually. The SiLC Register brings together professionals from a broad range of backgrounds who advise on land condition matters.

The SiLC Register is run and administered by a Professional and Technical Panel (PTP), which comprises representatives from the supporting professional bodies and senior professionals. The PTP develops and implements the registration process and is the ruling committee for individual registrations.


Should we get excited about the Mining Waste Directive and DoWCoP?

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Article contributed by Peter Witherington, Professional and Technical Panel Member of SiLC

I hesitate to suggest it is ever possible to become excited about waste. However, since that memorable day in 1994 when friendly Auntie CoPA left us, my children have called me a ‘sad dad’. This is probably because I loved telling them the fairy tale about how, because of an evil spell from a wicked witch who lived in lands across the sea, the sand from their sandpit underwent a magical transformation into that dreaded Monster Waste when they dropped it on my lawn.

The twists and turns in this tale over the last 16 years have left us breathless with the grandest lawyers in the land knitting together a web of intrigue to the design of the wicked witch. But fear not, in the nick of time, fairy godmother CL:AIRE brought us Princess DoWCop who, wielding her magic wand, gave the cleverest servants superpowers to fight that dreaded Monster returning him back to sand. And they all lived happily ever after . . .

Well, unfortunately, Prince DoWCoP’s powers were limited and unable to give superpowers to turn the Waste Monsters carelessly spilled onto the beach the beach, back to sand.

I am sorry but that is exciting as I can make the story but maybe someone else could pick it up and make it into a children’s best seller.

So, what is the reality? Article 2.4 of the Mining Waste Directive (MWD) is quite specific in stating that waste falling within its scope (extractive waste) is not subject to the Landfill Directive. As DoWCoP only deals with waste covered by the Landfill Directive, paragraph 11.1 was introduced, which expressly excludes its application to wastes that fall under the scope of the MWD. The directive defines extractive waste as: “waste resulting from the prospecting, extraction, treatment and storage of mineral resources and the working of quarries”. Even though the material may have been deposited decades ago, it would still qualify as waste unless the ‘end of waste’ test has been satisfied (and I think we can assume that if the material has just been left in situ and not recovered in any way, it will still be waste). It would therefore appear that in redeveloping former extractive sites, the construction industry could be dealing with wastes that are not covered by the Landfill Directive and the process of applying DoWCoP to define materials as ‘non waste’ would not be appropriate.

Under the MWD a “Waste facility” is defined as any area designated for the accumulation or deposit of extractive waste for given periods of time. Where the waste has been designated as such for 3 years, or more, the area will qualify as a “waste facility” regardless of the type of waste. Colliery spoil on most sites will have been in place for more than 3 years and hence it seems likely that the site becomes a waste facility regulated under the MWD.

However, as with all things to do with waste, nothing is simple and the MWD provides a couple of exclusions that could potentially apply:

Firstly, when wastes derived by the extractive industries is transported away from the mining waste facility it ceases to fall within its scope and as such falls under the regulation of the landfill directive. The location of the mining waste facility involving operations that took place before the mining waste directive was introduced might be difficult to define.

Secondly, the directive excludes areas that have been used for deposition of both mining waste and other wastes; in these circumstances both the mining waste and the other waste would be regulated by the Landfill Directive.

So, when dealing with a site such as a former colliery where wastes from the mining operations have been deposited, the poor qualified person is left with the dilemma of deciding whether she is dealing with a Mining Waste Facility or not. If the former, she cannot use the provisions of DoWCoP to re-use the site arisings if they comprise mining waste. So, what would the MWD require?

There are thirteen articles within the MWD defining the regulatory requirements, one of which is an Environmental Permit. However, an Environmental Permit is not required for those facilities that have been closed by 1 May 2008, those that stopped accepting wastes and those that will be completed by 21 December 2010. Many former extractive sites will have ceased operations before the stipulated dates but what are the implications when the materials are moved around as part of the construction project? The wastes remain extractive wastes and presumably still fall within the scope of the MWD. Should this be the case the beleaguered qualified person can look to the directive once more and see an important exception to the requirement of an Environmental Permit:

Inert Waste and Unpolluted Soil. Article 7 of the MWD (i.e. the obligation to hold a permit for a waste facility) do not apply to inert waste and unpolluted soil resulting from the prospecting, extraction, treatment and storage of mineral resources and the working of quarries, and waste resulting from the extraction, treatment and storage of peat.

• “Inert waste” is defined as “waste that does not undergo any significant physical, chemical or biological transformations. Inert waste will not dissolve, burn or otherwise physically or chemically react, biodegrade or adversely affect other matter with which it comes into contact in a way likely to give rise to environmental pollution or harm human health. The total leachability and pollutant content of the waste and the ecotoxicity of the leachate must be insignificant, and in particular not endanger the quality of surface water and/or groundwater.”

• “Unpolluted soil” is defined as “soil that is removed from the upper layer of the ground during extractive activities and that is not deemed to be polluted under the national law of the Member State where the site is located or under [EU] law”.

I think it can be argued that colliery spoil that is re-used during development comes under this definition of inert waste as it must have demonstrated that the material is suitable for use and checked whether it could burn, biodegrade or adversely affect matter it comes into contact with. It will also have been necessary to check leachability and undertaken a groundwater/surface water risk assessment.

Inert waste still comes under certain requirements of the MWD as shown in Table 1 below that I have extracted from the EA Guidance on the WMD.

Table 1

MWD Directive Requirements for Inert Wastes and Unpolluted Soil*

Environmental Permitting Guidance. The Mining Waste Directive For the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 Updated May 2010 Version 1.1. Paragraph 2.24

Article Description Requirement for inert Waste Y/N
4 General Requirements Y
5 Waste Management Plan Y
6 Major accident prevention and information N
7 Directive requirement for a permit N
8 Public participation N
9 Deposit in excavation voids Y
11(1) Management, technical development and training N
11(2) Requirements on location, construction, management, maintenance, monitoring, inspection, restoration, aftercare and record keeping For waste facilities only
11(3) Notification of events and environmental effects, implementation of emergency plans and reporting of monitoring results N
12(1-4) Closure and aftercare procedures Not required
12(5-6) Following closure, measures to control stability and minimise negative effects. Notification of events and effects, implementation of emergency plans and reporting monitoring results N
13(1-5) Requirements to prevent the deterioration of water status, soil pollution, prevent or reduce dust and gas emissions Y
13(6) Reduction of cyanide in ponds N
14 Financial Guarantees N
16 Informing other Member States N
17 Inspection prior to waste deposit N

The important conclusion from the EA Guidance is that Article 7 (The requirement for an Environmental Permit) does not apply to inert wastes and hence should the qualified person conclude that the materials fall within the scope of the MWD, they can breathe again as an Environmental Permit is not required to regulate the work.

The Articles which, nevertheless, must be complied with are:

  • Article 4: This simply states the general requirements of the directive in terms of preventing harm to human health and the Environment and the planning conditions and WMP will ensure this is complied with.
  • Article 9: This deals with the infilling of mine (surface or underground) voids.  In any event the requirements are all around ensuring stability and hence if ever voids have been infilled voids this requirement should have been complied with.
  • Article 11(2): These paragraphs deal with location, construction, management, maintenance, monitoring, inspection, restoration, aftercare and record keeping even when dealing with inert waste if it is in a waste facility.  According to the directive if waste has been stored for more than 3 years, it automatically becomes a waste facility.  That said the location, construction and management have already been dealt with.  Monitoring and inspection if required would be part of the planning permission for the new development and I presume that restoration and aftercare are all part of the development.  Record keeping could become an issue but see comments on Article 5 below.
  • Article 5: This article is the most significant for redevelopment work in that it requires preparation of a Waste Management Plan. However, looking through the requirements of the Article, all the items required in a WMP are provided in an MMP (apart of course from the name). The added advantage of the MMP is the requirement to maintain records that would fulfil the obligations under Article 11(2).


I suspect that many construction projects on former colliery sites may have inadvertently applied DoWCoP to materials that are excluded through paragraph 11.1. However, I do not see that these operations have been flouting the law since it is likely they have been dealing with inert waste that does not require implementation of an Environmental Permit.  Following the requirements of DoWCoP and with the onus under planning to protect Health and Safety and the Environment operations are fulfilling the obligations of the MWD albeit not directly in line with its provisions. By following DoWCoP, practitioners are providing regulators with all the information and more that could be required under the MWD.

I am sorry for not providing the excitement that my title might have offered but it seems to me that we are in the land of fairy tales.  I wonder how many more twists and turns there will be and whether “Great King Boris” can provide any easier route through this labyrinth than the “wicked witch” he thinks he is endeavouring to protect us from. Maybe this is a tale to be picked up by my children who now have children of their own . . . but probably not as fortunately the ‘sad dad’, now grandpa, has failed to pass on his enthusiasm for the subject.


20 Years of SiLC

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The SiLC Register was launched as a consequence of the work of the Urban Task Force which recognised the need for competent people to work in a sector that embraces many different disciplines. The Register includes professionals from the broad range of backgrounds that advise on land condition matters and provides evidence of competence in this field. After 20 years it continues to this day, and this is testimony to the need for and value delivered by the Register.

The Urban Task Force was established in 1998 by then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and chaired by Lord Rogers. Members were chosen for their expertise in the many elements which are necessary for an urban renaissance including sustainable development, urban design and urban regeneration. Its purpose was to identify the causes of urban decline and to establish a vision for our cities, founded on the principles of design excellence, economic strength, social wellbeing and environmental responsibility within appropriate delivery, fiscal and legal frameworks. At the time there was a Government target for 60% of new homes to be built on previously developed (aka brownfield) land.

The report from this taskforce, entitled Towards an Urban Renaissance was published in 1999 with over 100 recommendations which included the identification of the benefits of greater consistency in the handling of information on land contamination. It recommended the introduction of standard documentation describing the condition of the land, with the purpose of ensuring that during the sale, purchase and development of land, all parties had access to the same data sets and could therefore develop some general agreement between them on the levels of risk associated with that particular site or that particular use.

This concept was further developed by a working group chaired by Phil Kirby of BG Properties. Members of the working Group included Phil Crowcroft and Hugh Mallett. The working group also concluded that it would be essential to set up a qualification in order to sign off this standard documentation. The Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC) Register was therefore established in 2000 focused on setting high standards in the industry.

Mike Summersgill recalls that “Judith Lowe, who was technical co-ordinator for the working group, decided to put together a group of people, one from each Professional Institution and the AGS, to formulate an examination method to verify (by peer review, as still done now) those people that could ‘sign off’ the standard document. There were 6 grandparents, chartered professionals, including Judith Lowe, Peter Braithwaite (ICE), Paul Syms (RICS), Hugh Mallett (AGS), Colette Grundy (RSChem) and myself (CIWEM).

There was a pilot examination, with the above six being the Panel of Assessors; 13 people sat the exam, all passed. Those passing included, Phil Crowcroft, Doug Laidler, Jonathan Steeds and Peter Witherington. The next examination was in January 2002, with 13 passing including Roger Clark and Paul Nathanail. In June 2002, another 18 people passed including Padraig Daly and Claire Dickinson, bringing the total to 50 including the 6 grandparents. During that initial exam process, we identified those candidates who might be Assessors, so by early 2002 we had 10 more Assessors. In late 2002 they examined three of the six grandparents and verified us as SiLCs.”

From the inception of SiLC it has been administered by a Professional and Technical Panel (PTP) consisting of professional and technical representatives from each of the supporting professional institutions and the AGS, plus one or two co-opted members who provide a specific input to the PTP. The secretariat for the scheme is Forum Court Associates who were appointed in March 2015.
In 2011 Specialist in Land Condition Register Limited was established with a board of directors comprising representatives from the institutions and the AGS. The purpose was to protect the liability of those individuals who give their time and energy to managing the qualification process and to provide a higher-level approval process regarding the financial stability of SiLC and other key decisions recommended by the PTP.

SiLC Today
To become a SiLC it is necessary to pass an open book exam and an interview to demonstrate that a candidate meets the SiLC Criteria. SiLC are also the accreditation body in respect of Suitably Qualified Persons (SQPs) under the National Quality Mark Scheme (NQMS) promoted by the National Brownfield Forum (formerly the Land Forum). Passing the SiLC exam and interview, and a NQMS specific test, enables a candidate to also become an SQP. Chartership is a prerequisite for both. Hugh Mallet leads the exam sub-group who prepare each set of questions for the exam covering technical, legislation and formal guidance issues. Each year there are a number of Introduction Days around the country to explain the process of the exam. These events are mainly prepared and presented by Peter Witherington and Hugh Mallett.

There are now 195 SiLCs and 116 SQPs with another 7 candidates sitting the 2020a exam. It is true to say that the number of applications to become SiLC/SQP has increased in recent years since the launch of the NQMS. This underlies the determination of the profession to aspire to higher standards in the outputs they produce and to recognise the benefits of qualifications that demonstrate capability and quality.
The SiLC Affiliate Scheme was launched in 2018 and is intended to assist graduates, as well as more experienced individuals, to follow an integrated process towards full membership of a professional body and chartered status with the assistance of a professional body adviser, and then progress towards SiLC/SQP registration with the assistance of a SiLC mentor.

In January 2020 the Directors of SiLC Register Limited elected Roger Clark as Chair of the Board of Directors to succeed Phil Crowcroft who was Chair of the Board from 2011 to 2019 and Chair of the PTP from 2008 to 2017. The Board also elected Dr Paul Nathanail as Deputy Chair of the Board with the intention that Paul will succeed Roger as chair in two years’ time. The SiLC PTP is currently chaired by Ian Evans who in March 2020 succeeded Paul Burden (2017 to 2020).

In a recent interview published in the AGS eMagazine Phil Crowcroft said “SiLC delivers confidence that an individual has core competence in their own subject area whilst recognising and appreciating the parallel skills which are needed to deliver the reclamation and redevelopment of brownfield sites.” The dedication, hard work and leadership by Phil have brought SiLC as far as it has come today and the SiLC Register will always be grateful to him.

Looking Forward and Thanks
A big thanks to those mentioned in this article who have contributed to the success of SiLC over the last 20 years. Members of the Board, PTP and the SiLC Assessors are individuals who give their time and effort free of charge. Special thanks go to Doug Laidler who was one of the first Pilot SiLCs (8th). Doug sadly passed away in December 2019; he was a hugely respected professional consultant working on land contamination matters for many years and was the secretary of SAGTA.

SiLC looks forward to another 20 years of championing good quality in land condition.

Written by Grace Hawkins, SiLC Secretariat

SiLC and Affiliate Scheme application forms can be downloaded from Information on the NQMS can be obtained from


A Candid Look at Responses to SiLC Membership Questionnaire 2019

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A previous questionnaire was issued to the membership in 2009. As part of the SiLC Marketing Action Plan (2018 to 2021), it was proposed that a revised and updated questionnaire would be issued to the membership and this was done in 2019. Some questions remained the same as in the 2009 questionnaire, but the majority were revised, for example to include questions relating to the NQMS and the role of an SQP. The response to the 2019 questionnaire was 46% of registered SiLCs (90 responses), whereas in 2009 it was 43% (57 responses).

In general, those SiLCs who responded to the 2019 questionnaire consider that achieving SiLC registration had been worthwhile and had been a key factor in their professional development. It can be noted that 81% of respondents stated that SiLC is important to their area of work with comments indicating that generally the regulatory authorities recognise its credibility, it assists commercially with winning work and from one respondent a strong belief that it puts them ahead of those that do not have SiLCs. However, there were a small number of comments which referred to SiLC as not very active, feeling stagnant and in need of increased visibility in the industry to demonstrate why it is needed and why people should want to attain it. One response was even stronger saying it costs a lot of money and is of limited value. On the other hand it can be seen as encouraging in response to one of the other questions that there has been some requirement for SiLCs in pre-qualifications or specific project work from all groups across the industry, particularly Regulatory Authorities where 47 respondents out of the total of 90 indicated a requirement, but perhaps disappointing that only 28 respondents indicated a requirement from Environmental Consultants.

The responses to the question regarding how well-known is SiLC, indicate that a strong marketing effort is needed in order to increase the awareness of all groups other than Environmental Consultants and Regulatory Authorities and, even for these, some marketing effort would be beneficial. Suggestions of where marketing is needed were Scotland, legal advisers, insurers, private developers, large landowners, NHBC and non-contaminated land professionals.

It is perhaps a little surprising that 19% of respondents said that they do not have a professional development programme. For those that do, some indicated that SiLC forms a part of that programme. Although 46% of respondents said that they do not use the National Brownfield Skills Framework (NBSF), an encouraging proportion of respondents appear to be using it, particularly for their appraisal systems. One respondent suggested that in parts the NBSF is overly complex, but did not say which parts.

According to the responses, the SiLC website does not appear to be very well used with some members using it only every so often for specific things such as the Annual Forum or not at all. There seems to be doubt as to whether the Members Area has any useful purpose and there appears to be a general feeling that the whole website needs revitalising.

Positively, 61% of respondents consider that the National Quality Mark Scheme (NQMS) will achieve a raising of standards (which was the main purpose of the scheme – by getting things right first time), with 22% saying it will not. For some it is because of the limited take-up but others consider that until it is mandatory it will not reach its full potential. One respondent is not convinced that it will lead to faster planning applications as in their experience contaminated land issues are not generally the cause of planning delays. Another respondent said that there need to be positive case studies as to how the process has speeded up planning.

A disturbing comment came from one respondent who indicated that they had been specifically asked by clients not to include an SQP Declaration because they were concerned the site would be audited and this would cause delay. In reality, there is no intention to audit sites. Audits will cover only the basis on which the SQP has signed the Declaration and whether the NQMS process has been properly followed. There would be no interaction with or hold up of the site or the planning process and this respondent should inform their clients accordingly.

Although 25% of the responses indicated that they had received a requirement from Regulatory Authorities for an SQP Declaration in prequalification or specific project work, the overall number of requirements could have come from a much smaller number of authorities. Local Authorities have a right to check reports and they need to build up their own confidence in the scheme, but by ‘getting it right first time’ in the preparation of the reports and the Local Authorities ‘signposting’ to the scheme in their guidance there is a move towards ensuring that competent people prepare reports which in turn will help raise standards. It is also encouraging to note from the responses that some requirements are also coming from landowners, corporate organisations and the legal profession with uptake continuing to grow.

The SiLC PTP are resolved to improve the website in terms of its usefulness, including links to other sources of information and organisations. More marketing of SiLC is clearly needed. As inferred above, there is a SiLC Marketing Action Plan (2018 to 2021) in place which is kept under review at each PTP meeting. This now incorporates the feedback from the 2019 Questionnaire. Further marketing of the NQMS is underway by the NQMS Steering Group which includes dialogue with Local Authorities and Government Bodies. Many thanks are extended to those who took time to complete the survey and every effort will be made to bring about the changes suggested.

Article provided by Roger Clark, SiLC Chair of the Board and approved by SiLC PTP.


An Insight into the SiLC Exam

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If you have ever considered applying to be a Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC) and wondered what the process is like, this may help you. We asked some people who have recently become SiLC what their thoughts on the process.

Motivation for becoming a SiLC is often driven by personal desire, but support and encouragement from employers can really help. Aspirations to achieve the next obvious step in career development and reassure clients and regulators of competence when trying to negotiate agreement on a tricky site were big personal drivers. In my experience and from talking to others, where employers do not actively encourage professional accreditations from early years, SiLC uptake is lower within an organisation. There are clients and regulators who require demonstration of competence, such as SiLC, to work on their projects.

Looking back over their SiLC application process, candidates consider it has given them increased confidence in their own abilities and instilled some new behaviours that help them do a better job going forward. For instance, they have continued the rigour in researching source documents for actual legal definitions or specific wording in guidance rather than relying on memory or text within a previously written report. During exam research one candidate set up a series of weblinks to key documents which they now consult easily and regularly as part of their job. Another candidate really enjoyed going back to some of the source legislation that they might not have consulted for a while and reading minutes from some of the contaminated land forums which exist. On receiving the exam questions, candidates tend to be aware of the main topics and knew where to start and where further research was required to add detail to their answers. Some struggled with providing an executive style summary of data within a word count but recognise this is a key skill for presenting technical information to clients. It is always best to write the summary and then go back through it, perhaps several times, to ensure that all the salient points are covered and that the envisaged client would get an appropriate understanding of the site, based on the information provided, and also to check that words are not used up unnecessarily where a more concise use of words would leave some words to enable the adding of more information provided that it is included in the supplied report extracts etc.

Many said that the SiLC Induction Day was beneficial, making people feel “I’m ready for this” or “I can achieve this” and de-busting some of the myths about how difficult it is to become a SiLC. It highlighted the need to consider what being a specialist within your own field and experience means. You are not expected to be an expert but you are expected to employ rigorous questioning and checking of facts and research. The pass rate is higher for those who attend the Induction Day compared to those who don’t. Some consultancies have hosted Induction Days for a number of their staff at one time.

The interview was generally found to be “challenging but fair and friendly”. Those candidates who had reviewed their exam submissions prior to the interview and acknowledged where they did not know an answer but could explain what they would do to find out were typically more successful.

Candidates should not underestimate the time required to complete the exam and this can be the reason why some candidates fail. However, those who have been through the process and come out as a SiLC have found that it has given them increased confidence and often changes their ways of working for the better. It is also easy CPD for the year. All say that having done it that they feel it was a worthwhile and rewarding experience.

As a SiLC we can help raise standards within our industry by encouraging our employers to support and promote professional accreditation and raise awareness with potential clients and regulators of systems in place to demonstrate competence.

Further information about SiLC can be found on the SiLC website.

Article provided by Louise Beale, Technical Director at SLR.


SiLC, SQP and NQMS Update: Spring 2019

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There are now 196 registered SiLCs. The current round of examinations (2019a) has 13 candidates and the previous round (2018b) had 14 candidates. This is somewhat more than the numbers in previous years and indicates that the register is growing and has become a recognised body of professionals who have demonstrated their capability and experience in the brownfield sector. SiLC are the awarding body for the registration of SQPs under the National Quality Mark Scheme (NQMS) and there are currently 97 SQPs.

This obviously indicates that not all SiLCs have taken the online conversion course and exam to become an SQP. You have already demonstrated your capability in order to become a SiLC. The online exam is not intended to retest this but instead is there to ensure you have the additional knowledge to be an SQP. All the information you need is in the slides that form part of the online conversion course.  You have a relatively short step to becoming an SQP.

Most of us have an interest in achieving high standards in the products we deliver to our clients and the services we provide and therefore should be using whatever means are available to us to demonstrate this high standard. The NQMS can do this. Quite a number of clients are reported to be asking for Declarations to be submitted under the NQMS, ie signed off by an SQP. However, it is acknowledged that more publicity of the scheme is needed so that the NQMS becomes more recognised with respect to its benefits. SQPs explaining the benefits of the scheme to their clients will help this.

A number of local authorities are now signposting the NQMS. A selection is presented below;

Staffordshire Local Authorities (9 local authorities) reference NQMS in their developers guide regarding competent people:

Herts & Bedfordshire and Neighbouring Authorities Contaminated Land Forum (17 local authorities) reference NQMS in their guidance regarding competent people:–Recycling/Environmental-Health/Pollution-Control/Herts-and-beds-guidance-revision-2018.pdf

Worcestershire Regulatory Services reference NQMS – WRS recommend SQP appointment for expediency purposes:

Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan – Contaminated Land Supplementary Planning Document – supports the NQMS for land affected by contamination as a desirable component of any work undertaken to deal with land contamination:

One other local authority has stated that “On receipt of a report with the NQMS mark we would hope to find the review of the report to be straightforward and be able to determine it as acceptable ideally without any queries at all”. However, they go on to say that they “will not take the view that this scheme is a means to streamlining the satisfaction of conditions to the point at which a submitted report is accepted without conditions”. It should be pointed out that this is not the aim of the NQMS. Instead it is intended to raise standards and produce a quality that local authorities can rely on to enable them to utilise their resources as they think appropriate. It is hoped that many more local authorities will see the advantage to them of signposting to the NQMS.

As many will know, the Environment Agency have endorsed the scheme and the following give an indication of standard advice on planning application responses suggesting that the NQMS is used:

SiLC Affiliate Scheme      

Becoming chartered is a prerequisite to applying for SiLC Registration. Thus, those that have a specific interest in the brownfield sector and are looking to progress their careers in this direction need to plan for both becoming a full member of their chosen institution as well as becoming a SiLC. To facilitate this, the SiLC Affiliate Scheme has been launched and details are on the SiLC website ( where there is an application guide and an application form. As indicated in the July-August 2018 edition of the AGS eMagazine, the scheme is of interest to graduates and those who have already progressed their careers beyond graduation but not yet become chartered, to work towards full membership and chartered status of a professional body with the assistance of a professional body adviser, and then progress towards SiLC/SQP registration with the assistance of a SiLC mentor. The scheme can be entered at any level. The aim is to provide an integrated process for those on the scheme with clear objectives utilising the Brownfield Skills Development Framework and an early understanding of the purpose and benefits including CPD, the NQMS and the role of an SQP.

Members of the scheme will be designated as SiLC Affiliates, each with a SiLC Affiliate number, thereby demonstrating an individual’s commitment to becoming chartered and, in due course, a SiLC. The annual membership cost of the SiLC Affiliate Scheme is £50 plus VAT and includes 20% discount on the attendance fee for the SiLC Annual Forum.

Development Programme

List of qualifying professional bodies

CIEH            – Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

CIWEM        – Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

GS                – Geological Society

IEMA            – Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment

ICE               – Institution of Civil Engineers

RSC             – Royal Society of Chemistry

Scheme also supported by

AGS             – Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists

If you, or someone you know, think you may be interested in this scheme then ‘check out’ the details on the SiLC website and, if you like what you see, join the scheme.

Article provided by Roger Clark, Director at Marlowclark Consulting Limited


Standards and Professionalism

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Tags: Featured SiLC

I will try to limit this essay to Standards and Professionalism as they relate to the work undertaken, day-to-day by SiLCs and other practitioners in related fields. These standards are, by and large, common to all professions and are the backbone to their historical and continuing success.

The reader may be a fresh graduate starting out, or they may be a person with several degrees, chartered, at director level who has been working for years, or somewhere in between. The critical common factors are agreed norms which must be maintained and improved, throughout our careers. These are the Standards and Professionalism I am promoting.

In public life we often hear about standards when they are flouted or transgressed in some manner. We read headlines such as – “Trading Standards prosecute shop owner”, “Negligence case raised because some organisation ignored the latest guidance”, “Staff suspended for breaches of codes of conduct”, etc. Is it that things are getting worse in the “post-truth” world of lies and fake news? Where even reliance on experts (that’s you and I dear reader) was made suspect even by the fickle Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. What is happening the rest of the time when we have no shock headlines, and all seems fine with the world? The answer; standards work!

In order to provide common ground for discussion, a web-search provided me with definitions of Standards which might reasonably be distilled thus: “A standard is an agreed way of doing something. It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials – standards can cover a huge range of activities undertaken by organizations and used by their customers.” In more specific terms a standard is something a person or organisation SHALL or MUST do; it is not optional. This is akin to a Statute or Law. Failure to comply could have serious repercussions. It could mean some form of disciplinary process, maybe being “struck off” or actual criminal prosecution if human life, the environment, property, etc. is put in jeopardy.

Defining Professionalism is trickier but yields the following salient items:
1. Specialised Knowledge. Professionals are known for their knowledge in a specified field;
2. Competent. Professionals get the job done;
3. Honesty, Integrity, Accountability, Self-Regulation;
4. Building Expertise; and
5. Developing Emotional Intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, motivation and empathy).

Having a relevant degree from a recognised university is a reasonable starting point covering Item 1 on the list – then what? Experience and the actual practice of those skills in the field, office, and through interaction with colleagues, contractors and clients will help to develop Item 2.

Many of us will have learned, from our parents and family, and peers, a strong sense of honesty and fairness which has carried us successfully through our lives with a solid set of moral and ethical values. However, in professional life these need to be written down to provide common benchmarks by which we are all judged. These will cover us for Item 3.
What about building on your expertise and developing the emotional and mental strength to exercise these skills? An excellent way to do this is to join like-minded individuals to develop common goals, standards of behaviour and engagement – if only there was something like that? Well of course there is.
I recommend that ALL professionals in all fields pursue chartership as a minimum. Your choice of chartered organisation may be governed by your degree, your job, your employer, etc. By joining such an organisation (you can join more than one if you are very keen), you will be welcomed into a fold including seasoned professionals, novices and people in between – people like you. You will have access to direct help (sponsors and mentors), resources (libraries, standard documents, codes of practice) and lots of advice on how to keep your skills relevant and how to approach various tasks and ways of working. This all goes towards your own continuing professional development (CPD) – Item 4.

This will help create a sensible balance between doing what our client expects and keeping within the standards. This has a bearing on Emotional Intelligence (Item 5) which is considered by many to be essential in respect of career growth, rather than only relying on Items 1 to 4. Humans have an innate drive for acceptance and a need to please others. Professional relationships can become one sided or stressed; there is a risk of falling foul of stepping over the professional line and offerring advice which is what we believe the client wants to hear and not what they need to hear. This points back to diligence, honesty, impartiality and most of all integrity. Professionals MUST be willing, in fact, are honour bound, to deliver bad news when necessary and say “no” to a client at times when the client would prefer a “yes”. In recognition of such rare stresses, with proper and due acknowledgement of mental health issues, chartered organisations provide support and advice in a caring and supportive manner.

This essay is just a taster to spark discussion and hopefully inspire you to become a better professional. Once you embark on a professional career the journey does not end with chartership; that really marks the start of your professional life. You may consider going beyond chartership and consider becoming a SiLC, to improve your professional standing. Ultimately, you only get out what you are willing to put in. The rewards and enjoyment you receive will be well worth it.

Article contributed by James Nelson, Associate Director of Discovery CE Limited on behalf of SiLC


Emerging Contaminants

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Tags: Featured SiLC

The subject of emerging contaminants is floated on a regular basis – as being a regulatory challenge, a headache for industrial landowners, and an alarm bell for NGOs who watch for damage to the environment which might emerge unexpectedly from what might previously have been considered benign substances. Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring, published in 1962, brought the DDT issue out in the open. Regulators and Industry Bodies have tackled the subject of emerging contaminants, and found it very difficult to spot the  ”next DDT” or the “new asbestos”. Perhaps this is not surprising, as it is not so much the substances which emerge, as our understanding of the toxicology and other properties of substances, or their behaviour in the environment – such as persistence or potential for bioaccumulation. In addition, what might be viewed as an acceptable concentration this year might become unacceptable next year as bodies such as the World Health Organisation bring in new Drinking Water Standards which reflect our changing understanding of the effects of chemicals on health and the environment.

Much publicity has been given to PFAS (perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances), phthalates and microplastics of late. It is worth considering these in turn.

PFAS is a group of substances which include Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctane Acid (PFOA). These  have been used extensively in the last 30 years to provide food packaging, non-stick surfaces in kitchen ware, and improved fire suppression characteristics in foam used to douse fires. The reasons for its effectiveness relate to its persistence – it’s very hard to breakdown, and hence in the environment, there is very little biodegradation, and it only changes concentration by dilution. The group of substances are linked to several forms of cancer and effects on liver, gastrointestinal system and thyroid hormones.  In 2016, the USEPA  announced increasing concern about the group of substances, and reduced the Health Advisory Value to 70 nanograms/litre. This resulted in Water Companies reviewing their abstraction sources on a precautionary basis, with some discovering that their main source of drinking water supply could no longer be used with confidence. In the state of Michigan, widespread impacts on surface and groundwater have caused the State to declare localised states of emergency while they find alternative water supplies. Finding alternative sources and setting up appropriate infrastructure to deliver potable water to a State comes with a multi-million dollar bill, and the precautionary approach will be under scrutiny when it comes to deciding who pays the bill. The only  company in the US which manufactured PFAS is being pursued in the courts. Who knows what the outcome will be. Extensive investigation and clean-up is also being pursued at sites where fire training takes place – particularly airports and military sites, where mock aircraft or buildings have  regularly been dosed with fuel and the fire extinguished with PFAS in the foam.  The added effectiveness of fire foam using PFAS may have saved lives over the years, but it is difficult to balance the benefits (possible lives saved in fires) with the disbenefits (environmental accumulation and health impacts through drinking water). It often takes tens of years to establish the true impacts of bioaccumulation of a chemical in the food chain, and the application of the Precautionary Principle in the meantime is often justified by such uncertainty.

Phthalates first came to the attention of Regulators in the US in 2003, and since then, this group of chemicals have been studied in detail and shown to include some substances which have negative health effects. An over-arching report produced by the  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel on phthalates and alternatives  formed the basis for current concerns in relation to a wide range of possible health effects including damage to liver, kidney, lungs and reproductive system. There are moves afoot in the US to ban or reduce the use of a number of phthalates such as  Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP).  However, it can be seen that action is slow to happen with a truly new emerging contaminant, and now 15 years on from the first concerns being expressed, there is still only patchy State and Federal regulations in the US to eliminate the chemicals from some products, but the list is likely to grow.

Microplastics are also in the news currently. There is confusion around the terminology, with some commentators meaning finely shredded strands of plastics which are becoming entrained in fish in the ocean, against a backdrop of macro-sized plastics which float across the ocean and are cast up on beaches. Industry also produces deliberately fine-sized microplastics such as microsilicones, which are used in products such as wash-off personal products to improve abrasion and washing power. Micro silicones are relatively new, and some are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. It is an EU requirement that D4 (Cyclotetrasiloxane) and D5 (Cyclopentasiloxane) shall not be placed on the market in wash-off cosmetic products in a concentration equal to or greater than 0,1 % by weight of either substance, after 31 January 2020. This constraint is expected to be effective in controlling the appearance of microsilicones in waste waters. Some retailers have voted with their feet and will not accept inclusion of microplastics in consumer products. The balance of self-control and regulation can be an effective way to manage this emerging contaminant. However, dealing with the already massive presence of plastics in the environment presents rather greater challenges. Should we give up plastics altogether? This may be a step too far as they now form an intrinsic part of the fabric of society, but action is need to avoid adding to the existing problem.

But enough of “new” contaminants. What about some of the old chestnuts? Asbestos and its effect on health is well understood, but the relationship between asbestos in soil and asbestos in air is not. As the main pathway of casual exposure is inhalation of asbestos fibres usually liberated from soil in dry weather, we might consider this to require a high level of effort to research, but funds for such work are hard to come by in the UK. In some European countries, the only concern is for exposure to asbestos in the workplace as a result of building fabric degradation and accidental exposure when buildings are being renovated or maintained. Levels of asbestos in soil are not considered a problem. So the whole health risk picture associated with asbestos in the environment is patchy at best, and dangerously lacking at worst. So our approach to dealing effectively with asbestos is still emerging.

Mercury is likewise well known and relatively well understood, but it has taken a long time to produce a UN Convention on phasing out the use of mercury. The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an international treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.  Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, in 1956. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation’s chemical factory, which continued from 1932 to 1968. The Convention was signed in 2013, and came into effect in 2017. That’s 61 years after the effects of mercury on the people  of Minimata was first identified.

In conclusion, the subject of emerging contaminants should perhaps rightly include emerging knowledge of toxicology, biaccumulativity and persistence and emerging policy attitudes and interpretation of the Precautionary Principle. To be able to predict what will be the next big issue requires a high quality crystal ball, or a good knowledge of where we have gone wrong in the past to so we can learn from such events, and spot new problems earlier, allowing more timely action.

The SiLC Register is aimed at practitioners from a diverse range of professional bodies working in the assessment and management of land condition and brownfield regeneration who demonstrate a high degree of experience, competence and skill during their career. For more information about SiLC, please visit

Article contributed by Phil Crowcroft, Technical Fellow at ERM






SiLC Affiliate Scheme

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Tags: Featured SiLC

The SiLC Affiliant Scheme is due to be launched later this year to assist graduates and those who have already progressed beyond graduation to work towards SiLC Registration. A challenge for all professional bodies is to support individuals with the potential to become full members and bring them in at entry level membership. It is proposed that the SiLC Affiliate Scheme will create a potential pipeline of graduates and more experienced individuals working towards full membership and Chartered Status with their professional institutions, the latter being a pre-requisite for SiLC Registration.
Access to advice and mentoring for career progression through the SiLC Affiliate Scheme would :
• Encourage each individual to pursue professional qualifications and memberships;
• Encourage people to recognise the brownfield sector as a career path;
• Give mentored access to the Brownfield Skills Development Framework;
• Help Institutions build membership;
• Funnel graduates into Institutions and towards SiLC Registration in the longer term;
• Create greater momentum and growth in the SiLC Register and underpin the SiLC Register in the long term.
The proposal is set out below which shows the three tiers leading to SiLC Registration together with the connection between the SiLC Affiliate Scheme and the Brownfield Skills Development Framework and the level of support which can be offered at each tier. An applicant can join the scheme at any stage.

The applicant will have access to an Adviser as they work towards Chartership. Subsequently they would gain access to a Mentor as they work towards SiLC Registration beyond the point at which they attain their individual Chartership.

The roles of the Adviser and Mentor are considered to be distinct and undertaken by a different group at each stage. The roles are presented below along with an indication of the range of support to be offered.

Role Qualification Support offered
Adviser A qualified member of the host Professional Body or the Membership Development staff of the host Professional Body The aim would be to provide guidance to the candidate on the requirements of gaining the professional qualification with their relevant Professional Organisation. The Adviser will be familiar with the requirements of the host Professional Organisation and how this fits into the SiLC programme but will not necessarily be a SiLC
Mentor A current SiLC registered on the SiLC list of approved mentors. The aim of the Mentor is to offer specific guidance on the requirements of becoming a SiLC beyond the attainment of the initial Chartership with the host Professional Organisation. The Mentor will not necessarily be from the same Professional Organisation as the applicant but will be professsionally qualified with one of the Professional Organisations by virtue of being a registered SiLC.

Applicants would be expected to demonstrate the following :
• That they are graduate members (or the equivalent) of one of the qualifying Professional Organisations;
• Have a genuine interest in the brownfield land sector;
• Be aiming to become a full member of a qualifying Professional Organisation and to join the SiLC Register;
• Their commitment to the code of conduct of their host Professional Organisation and that of SiLC.
The annual membership cost of the SiLC Affiliate Scheme would be £50 plus VAT. This fee would include 20% discount on the attendance fee for the SiLC Annual Forum.

An announcement will be made by SiLC when the lists of Advisers and Mentors are complete and everything is ready for the scheme to be launched.

For further information on SiLC visit or find SiLC on LinkedIn.

Article provided by Roger Clark, Chartered Engineer, SiLC of Marlowclark Consulting Limited

This article was featured in the July/August 2018 issue of the AGS Magazine which can be viewed here.

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.