Britpave: The British In-Situ Concrete Paving Association

Report For Brownfield Land Re-use Welcomed by Industry

A new report from the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) calling for the realisation of the potential of brownfield land development has been welcomed by Britpave, the infrastructure industry association.

EIC’s new report, ‘Brownfield First: making better use of our land’, calls for the reuse of brownfield to be an essential part of delivering new residential and commercial development. Currently, only 10-20% of UK development takes place on sites classified as brownfield despite the latest statistics from the Homes and Communities Agency reporting that there are some 61,920 hectares of brownfield land in England alone ready for development. The EIC report calls for the government to review the financial model under which brownfield land is developed. This should include the reform of land remediation relief to remove the financial challenges of brownfield development with steps such as tax relief and a feasible pre-tax credit protocol.

“The EIC report forwards the re-use of brownfield land, rather than pristine greenfield land, as a sustainable way to deliver the UK’s residential and commercial development”, said Al McDermid, chair of the Britpave Soil Stabilisation task group. “As the industry’s focal point for the use of soil stabilisation to remediate brownfield land, we welcome the report’s recommendations for industry engagement as a key factor in allowing the government to achieve its ambitious target of achieving planning consent on 90% of sites recorded on the Brownfield Register by 2020.”

The traditional approach to re-use brownfield land, particularly if it has been contaminated by previous industrial use, is to simply dig up the problem soil and dump it elsewhere. McDermid argues that this is not an environmentally sustainable or cost effective approach. A far better approach is to use soil stabilisation and solidification to deal with the problem on site. This minimises the cost and nuisance of lorry movements, negates the need to pay landfill taxes and removes the need to import virgin aggregate. Using cementitious binding materials such as cement, lime, fly ash or ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) renders potential contaminants immobile and unleachable. Stabilisation of the soil treats the contaminants to produce a soil that is either less or non-toxic, or has no ability to leach them. An additional benefit of this process is the improvement of the physical properties of the stabilised soil to provide a strong engineered construction material.

“Soil stabilisation/solidification is a most cost effective and sustainable way to bring brownfield land back into productive use. However, it is a relatively new technique and involves a lot more than a man and tractor simply churning up the ground and scattering over some binder,” warns McDermid.
“Soils types and possible contaminants need to be assessed and tested so that the correct binder can be administered. Handling binders correctly requires a proper health and safety protocol. It also requires the use of specially developed plant to ensure that the mixing and placement of soil and binder is efficiently undertaken. As with all things, the best results are achieved when it is carried out by experienced best practice contractors.”