DBS appointed as geoenvironmental advisor on new residential housing and highways scheme

DBS has been appointed by a developer client to undertake the initial geoenvironmental appraisal of a proposed new large housing development site on the outskirts of Alnwick Town Centre, Northumberland.   This exciting high quality scheme proposes new housing with associated public open space and a new highway that will connect the development to Alnwick and the A1.

The work undertaken by DBS will support an outline planning application to be submitted to Northumberland County Council for the development.


Northern Forum Summer Conference

DBS attended the joint northern forum summer conference yesterday at The Norcroft Centre, University of Bradford.  The conference brings together the North East Contaminated Land Forum, the Yorkshire Contaminated Land Forum and the North West Brownfield Regeneration Forum.

There were a range of speakers in attendance, with the event focusing on Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act1990  and the recently updated Statutory Guidance for England.

The new statutory guidance introduces four categories into which a potentially contaminated site can be placed by the LPA.  Andrew Wiseman of Stephenson Harwood LLP spoke about the work of the new DEFRA expert panel that has been set up to advise and provide a sounding board to LPA’s on site designation and Part 2A, in particular where a site sits on the Category 2/3 boderline.  Another legal speaker, Helen Peters of Pincent Masons, provided a useful summary of the overview of environmental legislation as it stands, and a practioners viewpoint of dealing with the myriad of issues around identifying an appropriate person in the context of Part 2A, and how Part 2A sits with other environmental legislation such as the Environmental Permitting Regs 2010, the Environmental Damage Regs 2009, the Water Resources Act 1991 and Common Law (Rylands v Fletcher).

The final talk was presented by Carol Morgan, Environmental Health manager of Bradford MDC.  Carol discussed the Rat, and the risk of public health risk when displacing them through site development!  Not something we have considered before but Carol spoke of several projects where significant rat problems were caused in the greater site area when sites once dormant were disturbed, and presented the startling figure that disease from rats has killed more humans than all wars combined!  Serious subject but a light hearted presentation to end the day on.

As always, it is good to see how well attended these events are, as they help to keep contaminated land professionals the north of England abreast of the latest developments and understanding in the field, and provide a great networking experience, as they are attended by academics, consultants, industry and other related environmental professionals.


Small Redevelopment Schemes Can Also Be Challenging !!

DBS are currently working for a private developer on a new residential project in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.  The project gives an example as to the diversity of schemes that DBS are currently working on with regards to size and scale.  This project involves the redevelopment of an existing residential garden for a further two residential properties.

Whilst this type of scheme is at the smaller end of the projects that we normally get involved with (in comparison to other sites that we are currently working on that are being redeveloped for hundreds of residential units plus), the actual process of characterising a site for a change of use for planning is the same process, regardless of the size of the site, and obtaining information to support foundation design is generally the same, regardless of the size of the development.

Smaller projects can provide challenging obstacles as much as larger schemes, mainly due to the confined nature of the site and the requirement for any remediation required to mitigate build abnormals to be very cost effective, as the profit from the scheme is proportional to size.

On this project, which appeared very straightforward initially, significant Made Ground was found to be present on site arising form a former mineral railway.  Railway lines used to border the site dating from the birth of the Industrial Revolution and the original expansion of the Coal Fields, but were removed decades ago.  Any visitor to the site now would not imagine that Made Ground was present, as there is no trace of the former industry.

The Phase 2 intrusive investigation of the site undertaken by DBS identified Made Ground present comprising ash, coal and clinker.  This is typical of former mineral railway land.  Ash from steam locomotives was often used for track ballast and/or was spread on the surrounding ground.  This material is often elevated with heavy metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a product of combustion.  The material can also can have combustion potential itself due to the presence of coal fragments.

We are currently awaiting site chemistry data from the testing laboratory in order to undertake the risk assessment for the site, but, based off our initial work it is likely that contamination will be present (as discussed above) and that a cost effective remedial solution will need to be developed for the site.  The remedial solution is likely to involve pathway modification comprising property footprints to form a cap to Made Ground, with localised source removal or capping in garden areas.  The aim of the scheme will be to leave as much Made Ground on site as possible, whilst mitigating development risks, to ensure that our client does suffer from onerous off site disposal costs.

We will be negotiating with the regulators on our clients behalf to take forward a safe, sensible and sustainable remedial scheme, to enable conditions imposed on the development for contaminated land to be discharged by the LPA and the site to be redeveloped cost effectively.


DBS Working on New Industrial Facility in Wigan

DBS are supporting an industrial client based in the North West of England with condition support and discharge on their Environmental Permit.  The Environmental Permit is for a new waste oils processing and recycling facility in Wigan.

DBS have undertaken a review of the proposed process facilities on site, and we have also reviewed the sites location and sensitivity with regards to the local hydrogeological and hydrology regimes, and prepared risk assessments on the potential for contamination from the proposed facility.

The final reports will be used by our client to furnish the Environment Agency with additional information to enable permit conditions to be discharged, and the site to become operational and compliant within the requirements of their permit.



New Housing and Educational Scheme Proposed for North Tyneside

A much needed residential housing scheme is being proposed for West Shiremoor, North Tyneside.  The scheme is currently going through the planning system and a decision is due to be made soon on the application by the Local Planning Authority.

The development will include 590 new homes, many of them designed for families and a significant proportion of the homes will be affordable.  The scheme also includes for new educational facilities, and also improved transport links.

DBS are supporting the developer, The Northumberland Estates, on site characterisation of the large 25 hectare site.  The site is brownfield, having previously been used for underground coal mining (the High Main seam has been worked at a significant thickness beneath the site and shafts are present on site), opencast coal mining, and agriculture.

To date DBS have prepared a Phase 1 Geoenvironmental Desk Study report for the site, along with a detailed Coal Mining Risk Assessment report.  The desk study report was prepared in full compliance with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework and CLR11 Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination guidance, and the coal mining risk assessment report followed the requirements of the new Coal Authority Guidance for Developers, the Coal Authority are a statutory consultee on planning.

The reports have been prepared to support the planning application for a change of use at the site.

More information on this prestigious scheme can be found at the following link – www.thenorthumberlandestates.co.uk/news