Desk Study

Phase I of a Geo-Environmental Assessment

The first stage of any geo-environmental assessment is a Desk Study, the purpose of which is to identify and document the basic environmental factors that must be considered during a site development / redevelopment program in order to safeguard the health of site workers, future site users and the surrounding environment.

 The desk study must identify all potential sources of contamination associated with a site’s historical and current use, identify human and environmental features which could be affected (‘receptors’) and consider the various pathways through which interaction between the sources and receptors might result in an unacceptable risk of harm. A situation where an identified receptor could plausibly be harmed by contamination is called a Contaminant Linkage. The process also allows consideration of the scope of further works, should they be necessary, along with the potential timescale and financial costs which may be associated.

As a minimum, a desk study will generally involve the following tasks:

  • Preliminary site visit and walkover.
  • Collection of site records.
  • Consultation with the Environmental Health Department of the Local Authority and Environment Agency public database.
  • Study of geological, hydrogeological, topographical, and historic maps of the area.
  • Review of initial proposed development plan for the site.

The objective of the desk study is to identify what contaminant linkages are potentially active at the site in its current state and also what might become active through the proposed development. Contaminant linkages found to be potentially active will ultimately require investigation. However, an integral objective of the desk study phase is to discount those linkages which are not considered plausible at a particular site, enabling any subsequent sampling work (i.e. Phase II Site Investigation) to focus solely on the key issues which have been identified and so be both targeted and cost effective.

Desk Studies can either be undertaken on a stand alone basis, which is often the case when needed to support a planning application in order to minimise pre-consent expenditure, or if it is clear from the outset that a level of site investigation is going to be required, then it may be appropriate to produce a single combined Phase 1 and 2 report to save on costs. However, it is still always advisable to discuss the desk study findings and how they relate to the proposed Phase 2 sampling scope with the local authority to ensure agreement and avoid issues down the line – such prior agreement may also be a specific requirement of planning conditions.

Contact us for more detailed information on the desk study process and how it would relate to your particular site or proposed development. You may also be interested in our Feasibility Support service which will provide you with much of the key information for proposed scheme.

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With over 18 years experience in geotechnical and environmental consultancy, the directors of Pristine are at your disposal. Please give us a call, or request a call back, for a no obligation chat and see how we can help you.

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