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The Overlooked cost of soil Transportation

The disposal cost for waste soils often amounts to a significant cost for developers and it is a cost often not fully budgeted for during the early stages of project planning. In England and Wales, any soil that is discarded or to be discarded is considered to be a 'waste' in the first instance. To further complicate the issue in Scotland soil does not become a waste until it leaves the site. In covering this topic, it would be easy to descend into a plethora of increasingly bewildering jargon PAS100, WAMITAB, SR2010; instead we attempt to highlight the main issues for further investigation where necessary.

Perhaps the lack of foresight arises from an instinct that topsoil isn’t a waste and someone will be falling over themselves to get hold of some cheaply. In the “old days” soil was routinely transported onto farms to fill the odd “slack hole” in true agricultural style. Soil disposal is though, subject to serious scrutiny because specific chemical makeup of the substances present in the soil are not known and cannot be economically determined. Soil spoil is generally classified as Hazardous or Non-Hazardous and the correct procedure varies according to whether it will remain on the site of origin or taken elsewhere. Stockpiling of soil on site of origin has slightly different criteria.

Soils that are excavated in the course of construction and are to be reused for the purposes of construction on the site of origin are not considered to be a waste, so can be reused on the same site. On the other hand, if the same uncontaminated soils are to be reused as a fill material on a second site, this can only be carried out under a U1 exemption from the Environment Agency generally limited to 1000 tonnes OR under a Materials Management Plan (MMP) prepared in accordance with the CL:AIRE Definition of Waste Development Industry Code of practice (known as the DoWCoP). The soils must always be suitable for use without posing a risk of environmental pollution or harm to human health.

Contaminated soils, which require treatment during site redevelopment are likely to fall within the scope of the definition of waste in the revised Directive on Waste 2008/98/EC. These guidelines seek to ensure that the objectives set out in Article 13 of the revised Waste Framework Directive are met.

Another exemption allows up to 50 tonnes per hectare to be spread (this is equal to 0.3cm depth), but on chalk soils only.

Qualified Person, Permits and Waste Deployment Applications

If soils are to be moved off site, a permit to allow the use of mobile plant to spread waste is needed. What is more, on each occasion waste is to be spread, a deployment application needs to be made. A “standard rules” permit application to the Environment Agency costs £2641 and the Deployment application fee is £1718. Associated professional costs can quickly mount up in connection with the applications.

These applications have to be submitted by a Technically Qualified Person (TCM). The TCM generally holds an appropriate WAMITAB Certificate and the same person is required to be present on site for a proportion of the spreading time. There are a few alternatives including a short two day (EPOC) course, which gives a 12 month grace period to obtain the full WAMITAB certificate (Level 4 Medium Risk Operator Competence for Non-hazardous Sludge and Land Spreading); this would also involve site assessment by a visiting assessor.

[The WAMITAB acronym stands for, Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board]

The permit requires an Environmental Management System (EMS) to be put in place. There are then various avenues for maintaining the permits and finally surrendering them and so it goes on.

FGP have made good use of lockdown time to undertake and update WAMITAB Certificates with continuing competence tests. For information on the implications of moving waste soils an early conversation with FGP is likely to prove useful.