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Phase 1 Risk Assessment in Birmingham - Case Study

Birmingham's industrial history has left a legacy of contaminated land and as development continues to occur today, redevelopment of previously used sites becomes increasingly important and this land needs to be correctly identified and managed before any new development can occur.

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Phase 1 Risk Assessments in Birmingham

Whenever development is proposed on Brownfield sites that are potentially contaminated by past activities, or even current activities, a risk assessment will need to be carried out in order to identify the potential sources and pathways of contamination that may affect people or the environment at a site. This is often added as a condition to a planning application and no development will be allowed to occur until a Phase 1 Preliminary Risk Assessment is provided.

A Phase 1 Preliminary Risk Assessment will start with desk studies that include an assessment of past uses of a site, its environmental setting and any other relevant factors that may affect potential contamination. This information is used to develop what is known as a 'conceptual site model' that is used in preliminary risk assessments to identify potential 'pollutant linkages' that may be present at the site. Using this process, a Phase 1 Risk Assessment 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. The Phase 1 Risk Assessment will ultimately allow the assessor to determine whether any further testing is needed and how this should be carried out.

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Phase 1 Desk Study & Risk Assessment Case Study

In the case study highlighted here, our client needed a Phase 1 Preliminary Risk Assessment to satisfy certain planning permission conditions for a proposed development involving the construction of 5 retail units in Sparkhill, Birmingham. The site was in a highly developed urban area and the site itself had previously been built on. Our Phase 1 Risk Assessment desk studies identified multiple past uses including a cinema, a billiards hall, a Fiat car garage and then a car rental service. Our risk assessment 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.

Desk Study - The information we gathered through our phase 1 desk studies was used to develop our conceptual site model, outlining the sources, pathways and receptors at this site. 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.

Conclusion - However, our Phase 1 Preliminary Risk Assessment concluded that the risk to human health, nearby water courses and groundwater was low, for a number of reasons, with major points being that the fuel tank was decommissioned 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 an spillage or leakage of fuel would be low. The proposed 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.

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

Preliminary Risk Assessments & Birmingham's Industrial Past

Birmingham is one of the largest cities in the UK and has an extensive history of manufacturing and development leaving behind it a long legacy of potentially contaminated land. There are many landfill sites in Birmingham, many of which were a result of the massive growth in housing development throughout the 20th century. The materials used for house building were often taken from clay pits which were later infilled with waste materials.

Industrial activity in Birmingham reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s and over the last century, car manufacture has been the dominant industrial activity. Activities like this can cause land contamination mostly as a result of gas, liquid and solid waste produced as by-products of the manufacturing process.

With the dramatic rise in population in Birmingham energy production, mostly from coal burning, has also increased a great deal. Coal is a very 'dirty' fuel source and, therefore, brings with it considerable contaminated land issues that need to be address when developing on land potentially affected by historical (and current) coal burning in Birmingham.

I Need a Phase 1 Preliminary Risk Assessment - We can carry out Phase 1 Preliminary Risk Assessments for a range of development projects in Birmingham and the surrounding areas.

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 Preliminary Risk Assessment including a detailed desk study and, if requested, visit your site in Birmingham.
4. We can turnaround our Phase 1 Preliminary Risk Assessment within days of your initial enquiry allowing you to stick to schedules and minimise any disruption to your project