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Phase 1 Desk Study for Development near a Railway

Through detailed desk studies and the development of a conceptual site model we were able to assess the likelihood of an unacceptable risk from land contamination at this NHS development near a railway.

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Phase 1 Desk Studies for Development near Railway Land

Railway sites are often subject to land contamination, particularly where sidings have been. These sites are often used for storage and refuelling which can cause contamination of nearby land with heavy metals and hydrocarbons. Heavy metals are toxic at high concentrations and hydrocarbons are known to have carcinogenic and mutagenic effects on humans. Therefore, as more brownfield sites near railway land are redeveloped, for residential or commercial use, it is important to identify areas of contaminated land to protect both people's health and the environment.

Desk Studies – The identification of contaminated land will always start with a 'Phase 1 Desk Study' that draws on historical uses of the site to identify past developments and assess the potential risks arising from these developments. Findings from these desk studies are then used to form a 'conceptual site model' that will assess the level of risk present at a site by identifying sources of contamination, pathways for contamination to move through and receptors that may be affected. The conceptual site model will ultimately determine whether there is an unacceptable risk from contamination at a site and whether further assessment is necessary.

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A Phase 1 Desk Study on Land near a Railway – East Cheshire NHS Trust Case Study

A development was proposed on the site of historical railway sidings and a coal depot for the NHS in Macclesfield. The proposed development involved the construction of multi-use modular buildings for use by the NHS. Given the past use of the site there were a number of potential risks from land contamination and a Phase 1 Desk Study was, therefore, requested by Cheshire East Council through the attachment of contaminated land conditions on the client's planning application.

Risk Assessment – Our desk studies involved first analysing historical map data to find the past uses of the site and the surrounding area to identify the potential sources of contamination. This stage also involved a search of planning applications at the site to identify the past land uses and development that has occurred in the area.

Phase 1 Desk Studies also involve an assessment of the environmental setting of the site. This refers to things like the geology and hydrology of the site and it allows us to determine how certain contaminants might behave and which receptors are most at risk. At this NHS development near a railway our review estimated mostly sandy soil at the site with sandstone bedrock. We also identified the nearby river as a receptor as well as the groundwater underlying the site because of the relatively high water table and permeable soil.

Our Phase 1 Desk Study for a development near a railway identified potential sources of contamination from the former use of the site as a coal depot and railway sidings as well as its proximity to an existing railway, its past use as a car showroom and the likely presence of made ground. We also identified pathways for this contamination to affect future workers at the site and the local environment.

Conclusion – The identification of potential contamination sources, pathways and receptors meant that 'pollutant linkages' may be present at the site and through the development of a conceptual site model we were able to conclude that it was likely that there was an unacceptable risk of land contamination at the development near a railway and we, therefore, recommended that soil and water testing was carried out in order to quantify the risk.

I Need a Phase 1 Risk Assessment for Land near a Railway

We can carry out Phase 1 Risk Assessments for a range of commercial and residential developments near railway land.

1. Contact us and let us know your requirements
2. Following initial consultation we can provide an outline proposal detailing how we can help and the costs involved
3. Our environmental consultants will then carry out a Phase 1 Desk Study (Preliminary Risk Assessment) and, if requested, visit your site to carry out a supporting Walkover Survey
4. We can complete a Phase 1 Desk Study for your development near a railway within days of initial enquiry, allowing you to stick to schedules and minimise any disruption to your project

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