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Commercial Development on Contaminated Land

Past industrial activity across the United Kingdom has left a legacy of contaminated land, this has increased the importance of correct identification of potential contamination risks, through detailed desk studies and site investigations, prior to the commencement of proposed commercial redevelopment of these brownfield sites. Considering the proposed site's potential environmental impacts and the presence of any contamination from past commercial uses is a vital part of any commercial development project on potentially contaminated land.

Commercial Brownfield Development

Most cities in the UK have an extensive history of manufacturing and development, leaving behind a long legacy of potentially contaminated brownfield land. Landfill sites, car manufacturing and coal burning, can all lead to land contamination issues, either through the spread of ground gases or waste produced as by-products, and it's important to address this for commercial development on brownfield land that may have been affected by historical (and current) industrial activity.

When commercial development is proposed for a brownfield site, that's potentially contaminated by past activities or even current activities, detailed desk studies and intrusive site investigations, will need to be carried out in order to identify contamination sources and pathways that may affect people or the environment at a proposed commercial development site. This is often added as a condition to a planning application and no development will be allowed to occur until analysis of contamination is provided. For commercial developments on brownfield sites, it is important to consider the proposed site's potential environmental impacts and the presence of any contamination from past commercial uses.

How to assess contamination risk - The first step for assessing contamination risk for a commercial brownfield development will include looking into past uses of the brownfield site, its environmental setting and any other relevant factors that may affect the potential for contamination. This information is used to develop what's known as a 'conceptual site model', used in the risk assessment portion of a Desk Study to identify potential 'contaminant linkages' that may be present at the commercial brownfield site. Using this process allows the assessor to assume a particular level of risk as well as gain a good idea of where these risks may come from and who/what they may affect. An assessment contamination risk for a commercial development project will ultimately allow the assessor to determine whether any further investigation is needed and how this should be carried out.

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Commercial Development on Contaminated Land in Birmingham Case Study

In the case study highlighted here, our client first required a Phase 1 Preliminary Risk Assessment, to satisfy certain planning conditions imposed by Birmingham City Council, for a proposed commercial development involving the construction of retail units on brownfield land in Sparkhill, Birmingham. The brownfield site was in a highly developed urban area and the site itself had previously been built on. Our desk studies identified multiple past uses for the brownfield site including a cinema, a billiards hall, a Fiat car garage and then a car rental service. The risk assessment portion of our work also involved analysing various other online databases to obtain information on the ground conditions at the site and other important environmental factors to identify potential contamination sources, pathways and receptors.

The information we gathered for this project was used to develop our conceptual site model, outlining the sources, pathways and receptors at this commercial brownfield site in Sparkhill, Birmingham. During its past use as a car garage, a fuel storage tank was installed underground which was identified as the only potentially significant source of contamination at the site. We therefore identified multiple contamination pathways present at the site including potential vapour ingress into the building from hydrocarbon contamination in the soil from leakage from the fuel tank.

How We Helped - Our report concluded that the risk to human health, nearby water courses and groundwater was low, for a number of reasons, with major points being that an underground fuel tank was decommissioned many years ago and fuel leakages were not observed when it was removed. Additionally, it can be assumed that fuel leakages would be managed during use so the likelihood of a spillage or leakage of fuel would be low. The proposed commercial building was also comprised of a concrete base that would drastically limit any vapour ingress into the building. We were, therefore, able to confirm that, due to the lack of a significant contamination source or pathway, the contamination risk was low.

We were very pleased to have been able to assist our client in discharging the conditions placed on his planning application, by carrying out a complete Contaminated Land Investigation for the commercial brownfield development, and are grateful to have received the below review of our service.

With your help we have successfully discharged the conditions from Birmingham City Council. Thank you for your support.

Meet Our Commercial Development Contamination Consultants

Consultants - Supervised by our Chief Technical Officer, Louis Turner, our fully comprehensive risk assessments and testing services for commercial developments on contaminated land, are carried out by highly qualified consultants, combining over 30 years experience with recognised in-depth technical qualifications in identification of contamination and environmental issues, as well as the implementation of remediation work.

Management - Our wealth of experience in project management, logistics and environmental consulting allows us to provide efficient, friendly and high quality services for commercial developments on contaminated land. As a company, we believe that helping clients achieve their goals while simultaneously protecting the environment is a true "win-win" situation.

Partners - Our experienced, professional and qualified construction and consulting partners further extend the range of environmental and land contamination services we are able to provide. Our partners provide our clients with services such as waste management, remediation implementation and construction services.

Contact Us - Contact us and let us know your requirements. Following initial consultation we can provide an outline proposal detailing how we can help and the costs involved. Our environmental consultants will then get to work on enabling the smooth commencement of your commercial development project. We generally complete contaminated land assessments for commercial developments within days of your initial enquiry, allowing you to stick to schedules and minimise any disruption to your project.

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