Latest News: Steel Sheet Piles Assist Brownfield Decontamination Projects

March 2nd, 2020

Steel Sheet Piles Assist Brownfield Decontamination Projects

Brownfield sites are very much in the spotlight, as the countryside protection group, the CPRE, pushes for local authorities to develop the brownfield sites on their registers, rather than taking yet more Green Belt land for housing. Given the role steel sheet piles can play on brownfield sites, the debate is one Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd is keen to follow.

The CPRE says 1 million homes could be built across 18,000 sites and over 26,000 hectares of UK brownfield land. It also points to the Government being nowhere near achieving its 2014 goal of having planning permission in place for 90% of suitable brownfield sites by 2020. Half a million homes could be built on the brownfield sites for which no planning permission has been granted by local authorities – a decision at odds with the Government’s desire to see brownfield land reused.

One reason for not providing such permission could be down to site contamination. Solicitors often enquire about possible contamination when a client is seeking to develop or buy property on brownfield sites. These sites could have been home to factories, mines, refineries, landfill dumps, gas holders, nuclear plants, car plants or some other form of industrial enterprise. Sites could be contaminated with heavy metals, oils, tars, arsenic, cadmium, chemical substances such as solvents and gases, asbestos and radioactive substances.

A site is legally defined as being contaminated when it is causing, or could cause, significant issues that could harm people, property or protected species. Additionally, it could cause significant pollution to drinking water, surface water that then runs off into rivers or lakes, and groundwater.

Should it be particularly contaminated and deemed a ‘special site’, its regulation passes from the local authority to an environmental agency – either the Environment Agency England, Natural Resources Wales or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Those who own land that is contaminated, or which they contaminate, can be held responsible for any harm caused and the cost of the land clean-up operation.

Steel Sheet Piles Assist Brownfield Decontamination Projects
Sheet Pile Brownfield Decontamination


Steel Sheet Piles in Brownfield Decontamination Works

Contamination clean-ups are one type of project with which Sheet Piling UK can assist, using impervious steel sheet pile walls. Although brownfield decontamination projects are fairly complex to handle, installing a sheet pile wall can block off an area of land, so as to prevent any pollutants migrating beyond that point. Contaminated land within the sheet pile wall boundaries can then either be excavated and taken off-site for decontamination or treated on-site. One method of doing this is by using sheet pile walls to block off a large piece of land to be treated in its entirety within one perimeter. Alternatively, sheet piles could be installed so as to create lots of smaller cells within which decontamination activities can take place.

Steel sheet pile walls can be the ideal solution for such decontamination exercises, particularly as they can be installed on a temporary basis and removed once the contamination has been addressed. U and Z-profile sheet piles can both be effectively used as containment barriers.

The message to those owning contaminated land – whether that is in the public sector or the private sector – is to think how such land can enter the building economy once again, following a brownfield decontamination programme aided by sheet pile walls. Having a strategic approach to brownfield land can be far preferential to building on flood plains, destroying vegetation and wildlife habitats and eating up green spaces.

To find out how Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd could help your brownfield or land contamination project, please call us on +44 (0)1772 79 41 41.

- Ends -

Sheet Piling (UK) Limited is one of the UK's leading piling contractors. Owning and operating a comprehensive range of specialist piling equipment Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd also carry extensive stocks of new and used piles enabling rapid reaction to any urgent requirements or emergency situations.