‘Brownfield’ land is a term used to describe previously used/developed land that has later become unoccupied, derelict, or identified to be contaminated. UK Brownfield land can require potentially significant investigation, assessment, and remedial works prior to development. The UK has a wide-ranging legacy of brownfield land, the development of which the government and local authorities are actively encourage, to maintain continued regeneration and keep up with the ever-growing demand for residential and commercial developments, whilst preserving our greenfield sites.
Since 1998, brownfield land development has been an objective of the UK government, targeting remediation and regeneration of brownfield sites. Socio-economic benefits linked to redevelopment of brownfield sites, such as improving city/town centres and dilapidated residential areas (enabling job growth and increases in local tax), salvaging derelict buildings (often with significant historic links to the urban area), increase chances of obtaining planning permission.
Indirectly, brownfield development can also improve local conservation and protection of regional wildlife by moving away from greenfield land development, which are often progressed requiring protection or translocation localised and neighbouring flora and fauna.
Given the nature of brownfield sites, certain geo-environmental and geotechnical aspects can also provide unfavourable conditions to developers, such as clearance of existing structures/overgrown vegetation, disruption to the local infrastructure and adjacent properties and possible costly removal of waste/excess materials.
If risks are recognised prior to purchase associated remediation and mitigation costs can be accounted for by the developer.
A greater risk of purchasing brownfield land could also be the presence of previously unidentified contamination at the site, for which the new landowner would be liable. For a potential land-buyer, understanding potential geo-hazards at a brownfield site at an early stage is essential, to avoid negative financial impacts.
- We have wide-ranging experience in the assessment of brownfield sites for Clients, which often begins with a Phase 1 Desk Study at an early stage prior to purchase of the land.
- Where the potential for contaminated land is either anticipated or known (due to site use and/or previous preliminary investigation), a more detailed Contaminated Land Risk Assessment can be implemented from the offset.
- Intrusive investigation works will generally always be required to enable detailed assessment of the existing and potential risks from contamination. Methods commonly comprise trial pit excavations and borehole (cable percussion and rotary drilled) exploration techniques.
- Dependant on the findings, subsequent phases of monitoring to establish the long term hydrology at a site.
- Final stages of remediation and validation may then also be undertaken, to ensure the pollutant risk has been removed/mitigated and that evidence presented to regulators and other stakeholders.
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