Contaminated Land Q&A - Friday 11th October

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Contaminated Land Q&A - Friday 11th October

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On the 11th October Dave Rutherford, Project Manager and Contamination/Remediation Specialist Consultant at Turnkey Regeneration gave a well-received introduction to the world of contaminated land and development constraints & opportunities as part of our Real Estate seminars.


Following the seminar our Partner in Real Estate James Clewlow sat down with Dave for a Q&A to find out more about contaminated land and discuss the common questions developers ask around these issues.

Q. Firstly what is land contamination?

A: Land that is contaminated contains substances in or under the land that are actually or potentially hazardous or harmful to human health, property or the environment.  It is typically present on brownfield land (i.e. land that has been used before) with a history of industrial production.


Q, Why is it an important consideration for developers?

A: It is important as it is a material consideration under planning (meaning you have to consider it). You might have a liability that needs to be understood and reported under FRS102 (Financial Reporting Standard 102). You may also have a moral & legal duty and of course it can cause harm – generally meaning cancerous and/or toxic.


Q: How long could it take to go from planning a site investigation to completing remediation, ahead of development starting?

A: It takes typically 12-24 months for small to mid-sized sites. Larger sites or complicated situations (technical or procurement!) can increase this duration. Groundwater remediation can often be done in parallel with construction of the built environment and even operation of a site.


Q: How much can remediation (i.e. when required) cost for residential development on brownfield land?

A: This is a reflection of the history and scope of works; according to an HCA remediation costs guidance document (from 2015), costs could be in the range £130k to £1.765m per hectare. It really depends. The lower range are associated with sites with a history of light industrial use and the upper range sites which are high risk operations such as former gas works.  For greenfield sites, the cost would be negligible, i.e. as greenfield land in almost all cases, is not contaminated (however, careful of pesticides and rogue uses or former MOD-owned land).


Q: What are the most common contaminants that you come across?

A: Hydrocarbons, heavy metals and asbestos. Specifically, lead, asbestos and benzo(a)pyrene are the most common that come up in made ground (non natural ground) in my experience. Liquid form hydrocarbons impacting groundwater are also a common issue.


Q: Are invasive species a big problem and how can developers deal with them?

A: Yes, we commonly find them on brownfield sites. If you have time, then spraying is always the cheapest approach but can take a few seasons to years. In the construction/remediation scenario removal is usually the solution; however, there’s an opportunity to do this in a smart way (=cheaper) versus wholesale removal.


Q: Other than contamination and invasive species, what other in-ground constraints are there to think about?

A: Obstructions and services/utilities are the big ones. Ensuring the ground is well characterized so that appropriate foundation solutions can be drawn up for your development is also important. Other things to consider include flood risk, ecology and archaeology, which almost always play a part in large sites, especially near water courses – at least it needs thinking about early and holistically.


Q: What’s your key advice for clients who want to develop with regards to contamination?

A: Ensure you have an enabled & knowledgeable team, manage on the ‘front foot’ (be proactive) and always have the end in mind.


To find out more about land contamination and remediation issues please contact Dave Rutherford at


Throughout 2019 and 2020 we are hosting a number of property related seminars.

Please click below to find out more about our next seminar: 



Taxation on Promotion Agreements: 22 November


Taxation issues in a Promotion Agreement often cause unnecessary delay and frequently last-minute glitches. Whilst the majority of these tax issues impact on landowners, the delay that they cause impacts on developers and promoters wanting to progress further.


Knowledge of the issues are and how they need to be addressed helps limit the potential log jams. With this in mind we have partnered with Kreston Reeves to provide some transparency on those matters.


This free seminar is aimed at promoters, land agents and developers with the knowledge required so that you can help/advise landowners on how they need to address tax issues with their advisors.


Last few places remaining. Book your free place here



The content of this webpage is for information only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice and should not be treated as a substitute for specific advice. PDT Solicitors LLP accepts no responsibility for the content of any third party website to which this webpage refers.

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