Remediation activities

Any remediation activity to address land contamination should be designed and planned so risks can be managed appropriately.

It is commonly thought that remediation can only result in an environmental improvement.

However, while the remediation of chemically contaminated land and the associated water environment is carried out with improvement in mind, the remedial activity itself has the potential to adversely affect human health or the environment. Remediation objectives should ensure that any unacceptable risks are addressed at the planning stage.

Potential risks must be controlled, to ensure that remediation will result in an environmental improvement. This is normally achieved through the implementation of an appropriately designed remediation scheme and the application of legislative control, over and above that which sets the remediation objectives.

Even if remediation is being undertaken outwith Part IIA, the aim will be to improve the immediate environment. Part IIA often provides the driver, the policy steer and the bar for the majority of contamination. When such remediation is being carried out it makes sense to ensure that the setting of remedial targets is protective of the water environment and human health. 

Those involved should also reassure themselves that the improvements made are to a standard that would prevent any subsequent identification and remediation action to be required under Part IIA. 

Legislative control

Where the holder of contaminated soil and associated groundwaters intends to discard the soil, groundwater or the contaminants within it, then the contaminated soil or groundwater becomes waste.

Anyone wishing to dispose of waste, either on-site or off-site, must do so in accordance with waste management licensing requirements – please contact us for more information.

Anyone wishing to treat waste, either in-situ or ex-situ, requires a waste management licence (or an equivalent permit, authorisation or consent), but the mechanism for legislative control depends on the actual remediation activity. A waste management mobile plant licence is the preferred route of licensing the treatment of waste soil and groundwater.

Special waste, as controlled under the Special Waste Regulations 1996, as amended, is essentially the same as hazardous waste as defined in Article 1(4) of the Hazardous Waste Directive (91/689/EEC). Guidance on the interpretation of the definition and classification of hazardous waste is available.

The disposal of stable non-reactive hazardous waste in a non-hazardous landfill is provided under Regulation 12 3(c) of the Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003 only where the stable, non-reactive hazardous waste fulfils the waste acceptance criteria in paragraphs 1 and 3(a) of Schedule 2 of the Regulations and is solidified with a leaching behaviour equivalent to that of non-hazardous waste referred to in Regulation 12 3(b)).

More information about treating waste can be found within the waste section of our website.

Dealing with waste soils

We are keen to encourage the sustainable management of contaminated soils.

Our guidance on Land remediation and waste management guidelines sets out, in more detail, the regulation of the remediation of contaminated sites under the waste regulatory regime.

Producing remediation schemes

A well designed and documented remediation scheme provides all those involved with confidence that any and all risksassociated with land contamination have been managed appropriately.

Detailed project reports for different remedial techniques are also available from CIRIA and CL:AIRE, as well as the Environment Agency.

Contact us

If you have any questions or require any further information on remediation activities, please contact us.