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A Materials Management Plan (MMP) can allow for the reuse of contaminated or uncontaminated soil and other material in earthworks, whilst avoiding the lengthy and more costly process of securing an environmental permit to do so.
For brownfield projects in particular, the off-site disposal of surplus materials such as excavation arisings can be a significant cost item, and may impact project viability. Arisings from site levelling and excavation for foundations, basements, roads and utility service trenches can amount to thousands of tonnes of material.
In the past this material has been considered as waste by the definition set out in the Waste Framework Directive, meaning it cannot legally be used again unless environmental permit is issued. The Environment Agency advises timescales of up to 4 months from application to issue of bespoke or standard rules environmental permits, and application costs are significant.
For these reasons, the Definition of Waste Code of Practice was developed to provide a simplified process for enabling the reuse of site won materials ('waste' and non waste), either on the site of origin, or on another nominated site (movement between sites).
The Code of Practice (DoWCoP) requires that a Materials Management Plan is produced, and specifies what information must be gathered and documented. Crucially, the MMP must demonstrate the material has been deposited in the appropriate manner and will not pose unacceptable risks to human health or the environment, and it should be finalised at the design and planning stage of a project. All Material Management Plans must be reviewed by a Code of Practice Qualified Person, and receive final sign-off by the regulator.
Our team has experienced across a wide range of earthworks and related projects, and the development and application of MMPs in coordination with design teams, engineers and surveyors, architects and developers. We can provide advice and input at any stage of MMP development for brownfield or greenfield sites, undertake any outstanding technical assessments, and provide the Qualified Person declaration to the satisfaction of the regulator.
Where these arrangements are not made in advance, project deadlines often result in costly disposal to landfill being the only remaining option, with replacement soil or other fill material then imported place of that landfilled. Consideration of material mass balance calculations/cut and fill volumes early in the project lifecycle enables materials from on-site or another site to be incorporated into the scheme design. This can produce significant advantages in terms of programme/timescales, waste disposal volumes and cost, natural resource use (e.g. replacement quarried material), vehicle movements and sustainability overall.
Both contaminated, and clean, uncontaminated material may be utilised under an MMP, but it must be demonstrated that any contaminants do not result in increased risks to the environment or human health. Where required to meet risk based/remediation objectives, it is also possible to treat contaminated material prior to re-use on a project under the Code of Practice.
The Code of Practice is intended to simplify requirements around earthworks and development projects, can be applied for the use of both contaminated and/or uncontaminated materials.
Where contamination is present or suspected, materials should be categorised and used following the risk based approach set out in the Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination (CLR11). Any investigation, sampling and risk assessment should be documented, along with remediation to be undertaken, and a verification report issued on completion. Treatment/remediation activities may take place at the site of origin, a donor site or cluster site.
Where contamination is not suspected, this should be evidenced in the MMP by details of appropriate assessment, such as a desk study or site investigation report. With material suitability established, a design statement is drawn up describing details including material-use categorisation and quantities, specifications for the material and its placement, storage and tracking, and a verification plan.
The CL:AIRE Definition of Waste Code of Practice sets out four main principles for the use of materials as non-waste. The Materials Management Plan must contain sufficient information to demonstrate these requirements are met.
1. Protection of Human Health and the Environment
In line with the provisions of the Waste Framework Directive, adequate assessment must be undertaken, and where necessary, protection or remediation measures must be specified. Any material that presents unacceptable risk of pollution or harm to human health it is likely to be waste, although it may be possible to update the design or treat the material (see point 2).
2. Suitable for Use
The material must be suitable for the intended use, particularly in terms of its chemical and geotechnical properties. Excavated materials that are suitable for use without requiring treatment are unlikely to be waste. Material requiring treatment, such as to alter chemical or physical/geotechnical properties will be waste, but once treated and suitable for use, will no longer be considered waste under an approved MMP.
3. Certainty of Use
It must be demonstrated that any material is actually required to achieve the design and is used for the purpose stated. The DoWCoP requires this is established at the outset, meaning any material excavated and stockpiled will become waste, unless a definite requirement and use has been identified up-front.
4. Quantity of Material Required
Similarly to point 3, it must be demonstrated that volume of material used is not more than required to meet the design objectives. As only the quantity needed is permitted to be used, any additional emplacement of material could be deemed waste disposal.
Three main scenarios are described in the CoP to enable most project to be managed within the CoP framework.
A site is defined in one of the ways below.
Direct use of clean naturally occurring soil and mineral materials on a development site other than the site of origin (the donor site). This is only applicable to materials fitting one of the descriptions below.
Cluster projects allow the movement of materials between sites and off-site treatment facilities. Treated materials may brought back to the site, or used at other sites having a deficit of materials.
“Clean” is defined under the CoP as: “devoid of anthropogenic contamination to a degree or level that is considered harmful to living organisms”. Waste is defined under the EU Waste Framework Directive as: "any substance or object that the holder discards, intends to discard or is required to discard”.
Whatever the nature of your project, our team can help you identify the best solution to achieve a cost effective outcome and minimise waste disposal and haulage requirements.
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