Starting point for the assessment of environmental or geotechnical risk and liability
A Phase I Desk Study is referred to by the Environment Agency Contaminated Land Report 11 ‘Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination’ (CLR11) as an integral part of preliminary Risk Assessment, and is the starting point for the assessment of environmental or geotechnical risk and liability. In fact British Standards document BS 5930:2015 ‘Code of Practice for Site Investigations’ refers to the Desk Study as an essential first stage of any site investigation.
A Desk Study is essentially the collection and review of readily available environmental, geological, hydrological and historical data regarding a site. The sources for this information may include geological and historical maps, a search of available environmental databases, and a review of in-house data archives, but is unique to the site under study. It can also take the form of a Land Quality Statement designed to collate all available data for a site as required for funding and disposal purposes.
While the commissioning of a Desk Study is not restricted to the fulfillment of conditions relating to the planning process, a Phase I Desk Study is normally required as a matter of course by local authorities prior to any development regardless of size or type.
Coupled with the basic information, depending on the requirements and context of the site, one or other elements may also be included, such as:
- A review of previous site investigation reports
- A site walkover or Environmental Audit
- A Flood Risk Assessment
- Ecological Survey
The findings of the Desk Study are used to target and guide the further investigation of a site, and PBA are vastly experienced in identifying environmental and geotechnical issues prior to major works commencing, therefore saving time and unnecessary expense, as well as establishing likely geotechnical and environmental risks and liabilities.