60 Celebration: 30 years of success in land quality!

30 years of success – the Land Quality and Contaminated Land sector did not really exist when CampbellReith formed

In fact in the same decade (1960), the UK had just introduced the Clean Air Act to address the smogs of London. We’re proud to have achieved so much for the sector in the past 30 years.

The sector has changed radically over the life of the practice. The 90s saw the introduction of an initial framework for contaminated land appraisal, founded on a very basic method of assessment comprising comparison of results against a set of basic screening values with no real risk assessment undertaken. Failures invariably led to ‘dig and dump’ – soils that were deemed to be ‘contaminated’ were simply excavated and sent for disposal to landfill, thus transferring problematic soils from one place to another!

 

The late 90’s and 00’s saw the development of a risk based screening approach (CLEA framework) and the definition of Contaminated Land under the Environmental Protection Act and this has continually developed ever since. There has been a progressive move to much more detailed quantitative risk assessment and modelling of contaminated land risk. This includes consideration of human health, controlled waters and gas or vapour risks and has led to the development of the remediation industry where soil and groundwater is treated, rather than landfilled.

CampbellReith adapted to suit, and in the 90’s established a fledging (two-strong!) contaminated land department – now a fourteen strong Land Quality department spread over four offices.

Over the years, there have been exemplar projects where CampbellReith have acted as an early adopter of innovative remedial technologies and assessment procedures:

  • In the 90’s we undertook remedial soil washing at the former barracks in Woolwich, Arsenal and thermal treatment of impacted soils at the Constantine site in Iver, both of which were early uses of, what were at the time, novel technologies
  • In the 00’s we were at the vanguard of research regarding the assessment of risk of asbestos in soils at a former shipyard in Woolston Riverside, Southampton)
  • In the last decade, we have developed our soil guideline values following the release of industry’s Category 4 Screening Levels (C4SLs), and have significantly increased our groundwater, vapour and gas risk assessment capabilities in accordance with new guidance. The latter has recently enabled us to provide detailed gas risk assessments for a number of former landfill sites. At two such sites: Kilnwood, Crawley and Holly Lane, Erdington, we were able to significantly reduce the original scope of gas protection measures recommended by others, and, together with our geotechnical department, we have enabled both sites to be opened up for development.

We are and continue to be an award winning and highly commended practice in the contaminated land / remediation sector and are actively contributing to the industry via our contributions to SiLC (two members, both Suitably Qualified Persons (SQPs), one of whom is an assessor), CLAIRE (representative on the Technical Research Group – TRG) and SoBRA (representatives on various sub-committee groups).

The future is likely to hold increasing complexity of assessment, stricter standards, emerging contaminants and emphasis on carbon reduction and sustainability. Our vision remains to add value in this area alongside other engineering disciplines.

Author: Simon Burr, Partner