What is land remediation? Remediation means to correct something that is bad or defective, and land remediation is the cleaning up and reclaiming of land that has been contaminated in some way, to ensure that the contaminates are no longer a risk to human health or the environment. Land remediation is the process of restoring an area to either its original state or, more frequently, a ‘fit for purpose’ state, saving both time and money. This involves removing pollutants and contaminants in order to protect human health, buildings and infrastructure as well as the environment and ecosystems. Most contaminated land is as a result of anthropogenic (human influence on nature) activity and includes areas such as brownfield land, quarries, landfills and construction sites which can all be polluted and poor quality in terms of suitable environmental standards. The remediation processes allow these sites to be reclaimed and then developed for useful purposes. Why is land remediation needed? The UK has a great deal of expertise in this area out of necessity. As the world’s first industrialised nation, since the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, the UK has more than 400,000 hectares of polluted land, and our knowledge and experience in this area is now sought after globally. As a nation, we have made this area of clean-up a top priority with legislation and tax relief in place to support it. Contamination of soil can take various forms, and one example is metal contamination. This causes changes to the land in biological, chemical and physical ways. The naturally occurring bacteria in soil that supports natural healthy plant growth can become toxic due to metal contamination. This makes it impossible for plant life to grow or biodegrade in a natural cycle, and leaves the exposed soil vulnerable to rain and wind erosion, spreading the contamination further afield. Pollution can take various forms whether it comes from buried structures such as concrete basements, below ground redundant services or building and machinery foundations, many of which could contain dangerous contaminants, such as asbestos. Other naturally occurring pollutants including radon and arsenic can be found in the soil, or invasive plants like Japanese Knotweed. Polluted soil, water and even air containing hazardous substances has a worrying impact on human health, and frequently people are walking around polluted areas without even knowing it. Scientists have discovered disturbing links between contaminated land and illnesses such as cancer and asthma, as well as birth defects and developmental disorders. Cleaning up these contaminated areas is beneficial for human health as well as the environment and its ecosystems. What is the process of land remediation? Remediation is a four-part process that must be undertaken by the relevant specialists, such as hydrogeologists, geologists, microbiologists, chemical and environmental engineers, amongst others. The process is not simple, and requires many highly skilled experts to collaborate in order to determine the biological, physical and chemical states of the land, the damage as well as the level and type of remediation required. Land remediation relief is also available to be claimed to support you with your remediation and development project. Step 1 The process begins with a preliminary investigation of the site, mostly involving researching the history of the site geographically and geologically. Step 2 The next step is an intrusive on-site investigation, which involves taking samples of soil and rock from borehole drilling and taking ground water samples to then be sent for laboratory testing. All information gleaned is used to identify all sources, or types, of contamination and to assess the risks to human health, water resources and ecosystems of the area. This investigative process enables the experts to discover the levels of significant risk and to create appropriate targets for the remediation process. Step 3 In this part of the process, the remediation works begins. The first stage of this step involves developing a plan for the remediation process; determining how goals will be fulfilled, what technology will be required for the processes, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the clean-up strategies financially, and the viability of all options. This process could include excavation of soil and treatment by soil washing, chemical stabilisation, bioremediation or sorting. Ground water may need pumping out to be treated. An example of a successful remediation project is the clean-up of the 350-hectare area of East London that was reclaimed for the 2012 Olympic Games, and now is benefitting around 2,800 new residents. Step 4 This is the final step in the process. Once the work has been carried out, checks are made to assess if all objectives have been achieved, and to verify and validate that the land has been successfully remediated and is safe for development. What are the benefits of land remediation? Primarily, the biggest benefit of land remediation is to bring these tracts of land back into a healthy state which is then suitable for use again, in whatever form that takes. Given that the UK has a housing shortage, and a lack of affordable housing, the remediation of land for the safe development of new housing would be an obvious benefit. Other beneficial uses of remediated land could be community centres, leisure facilities, hotels, parks and green spaces. As previously mentioned, there are enormous benefits to the environment, ecosystems and human health to remediating land that could otherwise be causing immeasurable damage instead. The benefits to ecosystems and the environment are also clear. A remediated land gives a boost to healthy ecosystems which enhance the land’s natural beauty, and these all have a knock-on effect in improving conditions for human health and wellbeing, as well as having financial benefits in the long term as a result. What to do if you think you need land remediation services Should your company be about to embark on a development project, you will need the input of expert specialists to advise on the potential land remediation aspects. The first course of action is to contact a specialist company for advice and support such as DES Holdings, a highly reputable firm used to handle land remediation projects of every size and description. DES Holdings has over 30 years in the industry of demolition, asbestos handling, building and development services. With an experienced and highly qualified team, we are the trusted choice to give the best possible service for your land remediation project. We can take care of the entire process, from investigation through all physical work needed, right up to final verification with our expert understanding of all the regulations and legalities. Get in touch today to discuss with our highly skilled multi-disciplinary team to find out how we can support your land remediation needs.