Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
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The assessment of land that is contaminated or where contamination is suspected is a complex process. Site investigation and sampling are part of this process and should only be undertaken by those organisations or individuals who are competent, experienced and insured to undertake this type of work.
The information gained by these investigations is very important for:
If you are commissioning a site investigation for your construction site, make sure it is carried out in accordance with British Standards, best practice and current guidance.
It should include:
Intrusive site investigations need to be properly designed to collect the right quality and quantity of information.
Any site investigation must be undertaken in such a way that protects human health and the environment and should be carried out in accordance with:
Any report outlining the results should include a plan of the site showing where the samples were taken.
An accredited laboratory must undertake the analysis of samples taken from the site. Ensure that information on testing processes used and equipment calibration certificates are included in the results document.
Make sure that the laboratory tests run on the samples from the site include appropriate tests for all contaminants identified as likely to be present by the desk study (preliminary risk assessment).
Investigations for contamination can be undertaken separately or with other investigations, such as geotechnical works to collect information for foundation design.
An interpretative report should accompany the results. Specify what you want to use the information for. Use experienced contractors who can use the information that they have obtained to advise you.
Try to find out if a previous desk study and/or site investigation has been undertaken at the site. If so, try to get a copy of it. This information will need to be reviewed to see if it is suitable and relevant to the design of the proposed investigation. Previous site surveys may give you an indication of what should be included in a site investigation and may give an idea of what results to expect. This is an indication only. Do not rely on historic surveys undertaken by others.
If no information is available about the site, a good desk study and conceptual model are required prior to designing the site works.
Your local council Environmental Health Department or environmental regulator may hold information about the history of the site.
If you need to restore the site you are working on to its original condition, carry out a site survey before you start work to provide a detailed record of the soils present and their locations.
In your method statement, set out:
If appropriate, you must commit to undertake any necessary restoration works, for example soil loosening, that are identified by an assessment of soil condition after reinstatement.
In Scotland the stripping and removal of topsoil is subject to various controls. You must have planning permission to remove for sale, more than five cubic yards of surface soil from agricultural land in any three-month period.
Although this does not apply in Northern Ireland the stripping and removal of topsoil may be subject to other controls. Consult the Planning Service for more information.
The Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland and the Roads Authority in Scotland have the power to serve you with a notice that requires you to take action to prevent soil from that land being washed onto any roads next to your site.
Make sure you take all possible steps to prevent soil being washed off your site.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.
Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Read more on the DAERA website
The NetRegs team at SEPA, in partnership with The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and a number of industry bodies have produced 9 new GPPs to replace out of date PPGs. More are coming! Check the available topics
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