Last edited 10 Sep 2020

Ground conditions

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[edit] Introduction

A thorough investigation and assessment of ground conditions and stability is an essential stage of any project in order to determine issues such as:

An assessment of ground conditions in relation to construction projects typically includes geology, hydrology, hydrogeology and soil conditions of a site and surrounding, along with the contaminated land. A site investigation report will highlight any findings that may affect the construction of the works and identify any health and safety concerns.

The following conditions might be considered:

Typically, for a large construction project where an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required, an assessment of the impacts on ground conditions is necessary. This would usually include a desk-based assessment and a field survey.

The exact content of the desk-based assessment would vary depending on the project in question, however, it could include an assessment of the following sources of information relevant to the site and surrounding area:

The desk-based assessment would inform the requirements for any field surveys. The field surveys are likely to include geo-environmental testing of the soil and groundwater for contamination through the excavation of trial pits or holes. Deeper investigations may be required using boreholes or dynamic probing.

[edit] Legislation and planning policy

[edit] Legislation

The predominant pieces of legislation that are relevant to ground conditions include:

[edit] Planning policy

The planning policies within the National Planning Policy Framework that are of direct relevance to geology, soils and contaminated land are:

109 The planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by:

110 In preparing plans to meet development needs, the aim should be to minimize pollution and other adverse effects on the local and natural environment. Plans should allocate land with the least environmental or amenity value, where consistent with other policies in this Framework.

111 Planning policies and decisions should encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value. Local planning authorities may continue to consider the case for setting a locally appropriate target for the use of brownfield land.

112 Local planning authorities should take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality.

113 Local planning authorities should set criteria based policies against which proposals for any development on or affecting protected wildlife or geodiversity sites or landscape areas will be judged. Distinctions should be made between the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites so that protection is commensurate with their status and gives appropriate weight to their importance and the contribution that they make to wider ecological networks.

117 To minimise impacts on biodiversity and geodiversity, planning policies should aim to prevent harm to geological conservation interests.

120 To prevent unacceptable risks from pollution and land instability, planning policies and decisions should ensure that new development is appropriate for its location. The effects (including cumulative effects) of pollution on health, the natural environment or general amenity, and the potential sensitivity of the area or proposed development to adverse effects from pollution should be taken into account. Where a site is affected by contamination or land stability issues, responsibility for securing a safe development rests with the developer and/or landowner.

121 Planning policies and decisions should also ensure that:

122 In doing so, local planning authorities should focus on whether the development itself is an acceptable use of the land, and the impact of the use, rather than the control of processes or emissions themselves where these are subject to approval under pollution control regimes. Local planning authorities should assume that these regimes will operate effectively. Equally, where a planning decision has been made on a particular development, the planning issues should not be revisited through the permitting regimes operated by pollution control authorities.

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[edit] External references

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