Site Investigations for Landlords/Property Developers

oil stained courtyard from historic contamination

Geo Pollution Technologies offer a range of desktop and intrusive site investigations in order to provide details on the status of your land.

Land contamination has become an increasingly significant environmental issue over the past 2 decades and the introduction of key pieces of legislation such as Environmental Protection Act 1990 and The National Planning Policy Framework 2012 has increased landowner’s responsibilities to investigate any potential contamination.

When do I need a contaminated land survey?

There are several reasons why a contaminated land report could be required:

1 – Contaminated Land report as part of a pre-acquisition survey/ due diligence report

Prior to acquiring a piece of land it is extremely important to identify any land contamination which may be present. If land is bought without these checks being conducted you run the risk of overpaying for the land or even purchasing land which is unusable and may be uneconomical to remediate. Conversely for land owners, due diligence reports are necessary to understand the value of their assets and establish corporate environmental liabilities for accounting purposes.

2 – Contaminated land assessments as part of planning permission applications

Local authorities will often require contaminated land assessments to be conducted when reviewing planning permission applications. Depending on the nature of the intended land use i.e. domestic or commercial, different levels of contamination will be deemed acceptable on a risk basis. Where contamination is found they will require the owner to remediate the land to a standard where it is considered safe to all identified receptors including both human and environmental.

3 – Contaminated land investigation to satisfy local authority or regulatory authority’s enforcements

In some circumstances local or regulatory authorities can instruct landowners to conduct contaminated land assessments where there is a suspected human health risk or contamination has the potential to cause significant harm to environmentally sensitive locations.

Phase I - Desktop contaminated land survey

Information is collected relating to the current and historical land use of both the site and the surrounding area. Depending on the historical nature of the site and the sensitivity of the receptors in the surrounding area we can assess the likelihood and nature of any potential contamination.

During our investigations we liaise with relevant Regulators and data providers e.g. The Environment Agency, The Coal Authority and local councils.

If the historic land use shows no activities have been present which are likely to cause contamination and the surrounding areas are not particularly sensitive e.g. no SSSI’s (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) present; then a report will be collated recommending no further surveys are necessary. If potential contamination risks are found then we will recommend a site walkover and/or a phase II intrusive investigation.

Phase I - Desktop contaminated land survey with site walkover

Depending on the results of the desktop survey we may recommend a site walkover to gain a better understanding of the current land condition. The site walkover aims to identify potential indicators of past/present contamination e.g. Surface stains, backfilled areas, land use, subsidence and poor drainage.

Phase II Intrusive contaminated land survey

If potential contamination is identified during our phase I survey then we will recommend a phase II intrusive contaminated land survey. The purpose of this is to investigate the aspects highlighted in the phase I survey in more detail. The phase II contaminated land survey involves the collection of soil, groundwater or gas samples in order to assess levels and extent of contamination.

The exploratory methods used and sample locations will be based on the data gathered in the phase I investigation. This will take into account all available data such as ground conditions (geology, hydrogeology etc.), the sensitivity and setting of the site, the type of suspected contaminants and potential pollution “hotspots”.

The collected samples are sent to a UKAS accredited laboratory and analysed for identified contaminants of concern. The concentration and extent of any contamination identified is presented in an easy to read report. The report will be based on the source-pathway-receptor model and will provide qualitative and/or quantitative data. This data will be analysed based on planned future site use (e.g. residential or commercial) and will provide recommendations for any remedial actions necessary.

Phase III Contaminated Land Remediation Design

If the phase I and II contaminated land surveys show remediation is necessary we can design a suitable remediation strategy and methodology. The methodology will be based on site specific constraints and crucially will consider proposed land usage; for example the level of contamination which is tolerable for an industrial site is higher than the amount tolerable for a residential site.

The relevant remediation technique is chosen based on a variety of factors including the type, location and extent of contamination, the timescales required by the client and the sensitivity of the site measured against the cost of remediation.

During the design stage of the remediation, as with all stages of contaminated land investigation, we will consult with relevant regulatory authorities to ensure the remediation design and targeted remediation levels are satisfactory for the proposed land use.

Phase IV – Contaminated land remediation

Once a design strategy has been completed we have the expertise to carry out the works. We will reassess the remedial technology being used throughout the duration of project to ensure the most effective and economical technology is used at all stages and we will ensure that all regulatory requirements are met throughout e.g. waste management licensing, discharge permits etc. Following a remediation project a validation report will be provided confirming the final contaminative status of the land which can be used in support of obtaining planning permission, or assist in the sale of the property.

Site Investigation Case Studies

planning application site investigation
site investigation landlord
pre acquisition survey case study

Extracts from legislation and guidance

"120. To prevent unacceptable risks from pollution and land instability, planning policies and decisions should ensure that new development is appropriate for its location. The effects (including cumulative effects) of pollution on health, the natural environment or general amenity, and the potential sensitivity of the area or proposed development to adverse effects from pollution, should be taken into account. Where a site is affected by contamination or land stability issues, responsibility for securing a safe development rests with the developer and/or landowner.

121. Planning policies and decisions should also ensure that:

  • the site is suitable for its new use taking account of ground conditions and land instability, including from natural hazards or former activities such as mining, pollution arising from previous uses and any proposals for mitigation including land remediation or impacts on the natural environment arising from that remediation;
  • after remediation, as a minimum, land should not be capable of being determined as contaminated land under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990; and
  • adequate site investigation information, prepared by a competent person, is presented."

National Planning Policy Framework

"All investigations of land potentially affected by contamination should be carried out in accordance with established procedures (such as BS10175 (2001) Code of Practice for the Investigation of Potentially Contaminated Sites). The minimum information that should be provided by an applicant is the report of a desk study and site reconnaissance."

National Planning Policy Framework

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Geo Pollution Technologies (UK) LTD - company number - 04689357


GPT head office is based in South Wales and covers all areas of South Wales, West Wales and Mid Wales including Cardiff, Swansea, Bridgend, Newport, Port Talbot, Powys, Llanelli, Neath, Pembrokeshire and Aberystwyth.

We also cover the South West of England from our premesis in Exeter including Cornwall, Devon, Taunton, Redruth, Truro, St Austell, Falmouth, New quay, Torquay, Paignton, Bristol, Plymouth, Bath, Gloucester and Somerset, .

We also operate across the midlands, London, Birmingham, Leicester, Northampton, Derby, Stoke, Nottingham, Coventry, Liverpool, Worcester, Southampton, Swindon, Manchester, Sheffield, Slough, Heathrow, Leatherhead and Surrey.