As environmental advisor to Christchurch & East Dorset Councils, we recently completed a district wide contaminated land assessment to serve as the foundation for risk management under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990.
Our first priority was to create a consistent and defensible foundation for all Part 2A and environmental planning decision-making. We achieved this by designing an interactive GIS platform as the basis for workflow.

The first step in this process was to collect and integrate all relevant and available data. This included data held by the Local Authority (e.g. Local Plan, or SHLAA), data available from previous consultancies providing this out-sourced advice function, and our own extensive in-house data library. The combination of this data provided a solid foundation to build a decision-making system from.

Our expert consultants then completed a project of reviewing and digitising this information to build a data layer of potentially contaminated land sites across both areas. Once complete, we then reviewed the regulatory tolerances of Christchurch and East Dorset Councils and applied logic to cleanse this data layer (e.g. duplicate or very small sites).

This contaminated land risk data layer was then run against a data layer containing all relevant receptors across the district. These receptors include residential properties, school fields or open spaces, Source Protection Zones, ecological designations and water features. The comparison of contaminated land risk area, against sensitive receptors, created an output score for every piece of potentially contaminated land in the district in line with guidance under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (which specifies the requirement for a contaminant-pathway-receptor relationship to be present).

The prioritised list of all individual sites was then determined into priority groups, with the highest risk areas specified as Priority 1 locations, and the lowest risk areas specified as Priority 4 locations, again in line with Part 2A guidance.

This process has allowed over 10,000 locations to be assessed for risk in a credible, transparent and consistent way, with the outcome and results available at the fingertips of the department. The output is also the basis for decision-making on the next steps of investigation for proactive contaminated land risk management at Priority level 1 locations.

In addition, all individual risk sites have been supplied to the planning department, as a GIS layer to alert to the requirements for contaminated land conditions as part of any conditional planning approval. This has created cross-department efficiencies and improvements.

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