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Phase 1 environmental site assessments are undertaken to examine potential environmental liabilities associated with a property or land holding. The requirement for an environmental site assessment (ESA) typically arises where one of the parties to a transaction requires such environmental risk and liabilities to documented.
Similarly, parties entering into a lease agreement may wish to have a documented record of preexisting site conditions at the outset of the lease, to prevent finding themselves liable for such conditions at a later date.
Land contamination is also a material consideration within UK planning policy, which requires that any development site must not present unacceptable risks to those inhabiting, using or otherwise affected by it.
Adeptus undertakes phase 1 environmental reports throughout the UK on a fixed costs basis and will work to accommodate your scope and timescale requirements. International experience has taken us as far afield as Australia, and we have also acted in the UK on behalf of overseas purchasers requiring extensive contaminated land assessment aligned with US standards and procedures, such as ASTM E 1527 and CERCLA.
In compiling a phase 1 ESA report, we initially undertake a detailed review of pertinent information from sources including the Environment Agency, Ordanance Survey, the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Defra. This allows us to assemble picture of the previous land-use on and around the site, and together with modern regulatory records and anecdotal evidence, provides a good indication of the potential for impacts on soil and groundwater locally.
A site reconnaissance visit and non-intrusive environmental survey is typically undertaken to identify any visual or olfactory evidence of ground contamination at the site, highlight risks from sources such as underground storage tanks (USTs), and note site practices such as deliveries, refuelling, chemical use, and general 'housekeeping'.
However, the actual or suspected existence of environmental contamination is only half of the phase 1 site assessment picture; the skill and experience of your risk assessor is crucial in deriving a judgement on the overall level of risk potentially presented. If for instance, the site is within a sensitive groundwater location, or adjacent a school, any potential hazards will be of much greater significance than if the site was underlain by unproductive strata and in an isolated rural area. Most site settings will lie somewhere on a continuum between these extremes, and a large degree of judgement must be exercised in formulating and interpreting a robust conceptual site model.
'Part 2A' came into force on 1st April 2000 in response to growing recognition of the need to address legacy contamination associated with our rich industrial heritage. The driving objective of Part 2A is to provide a system for the identification of land where contamination is causing unacceptable risk to human health or the environment, and thereby ensure land is suitable for its current or proposed use. With the "polluter pays principle" being central to the new regime, environmental site assessments are an important due-diligence step and acknowledged best practice. The RICS terms this kind of report a Land Quality Statement (LQS).
We continue to see increasing emphasis on potential liability associated with per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS - which include PFOS and PFOA) and other emerging contaminants.
Phase 2 ESA is usually undertaken where the phase 1 has indicated a site may be affected by significant contamination. In some cases, however, interested parties such as a lender may require phase 2 assessment as a matter of course. Where this is the case, we can typically design a limited scope phase 2 investigation to provide physical data and refine the site conceptual model.
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