Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Soils and soil stripping

Soils and soil stripping

Carry out a soil survey

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 soil map: a detailed record of the soils present and their locations.

In your method statement, set out:

  • your intended soil stripping depth
  • ways that you will separate and keep different soils apart
  • methods that you will use to handle the soil (taking into account the weather)
  • the location and height of soil storage mounds and how long they will be present
  • how uncontaminated and contaminated materials will be kept separate
  • proposals for reinstating soils.

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.

Prevent water pollution

Controlling surface water run-off

Dealing with silty water

Get consent to remove soil

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.

Northern Ireland: DOE Planning

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.

Further information

Northern Ireland Environment Agency: Guidance on the regulation of greenfield soil (Adobe PDF - 625KB)

SEPA: Promoting the sustainable use of greenfield soils

SEE ALSO: Controlling surface water runoff, Dewatering during construction, Protecting groundwater during construction

Whats new on NetRegs

  • Waste – Duty of Care Roles and Responsibilities

    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.



  • EIA (Agriculture) Regulations for Northern Ireland

    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

  • Guidance from your environmental regulator

    Regulator logos

  • 9 NEW GPPs (Guidance for Pollution Prevention) available now

    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

  • New guidance

    New guidance for Start-ups, charities and community projects


NetRegs on NetRegs on youTube

View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.

NetRegs Update Newsletter

Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland

Sign up for free today!


NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms