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contaminated land

Land use and reuse are critically important for creating greener cities with a high quality of life. Brownfield sites are both a challenge and an opportunity. With a growing demand for land, the reuse or repurposing of previously used land, known as brownfield sites, is of increasing importance in Ireland.

Contaminated brownfield sites may be found in any location, but mainly occur in urban areas. Contamination is likely to be an issue where land has been used for activities such as gasworks, metal processing, historical waste sites, chemical manufacturing, heavy engineering facilities, and petrol stations. Of particular concern are the presence of heavy metals, asbestos, cyanides and hydrocarbon compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

When proposing a development on a brownfield site it is a normal planning requirement that an assessment of contamination issues be undertaken. The presence of contamination does not necessarily mean that there is a legal liability for a clean-up for its current land use. In some cases, the existence of low levels of contamination is correlated with the current use of the land. However, in many urban areas, the redevelopment of contaminated land to highly sensitive end-use, such as residential dwellings may require remediation so that the land is suitable for its intended use. In these cases, there is a requirement for a contaminated land investigation, management, and reporting.

Government guidance recognises land contamination as a material planning consideration and that the development phase of a project is the most cost-effective time to deal with the problem and that it is the developer’s responsibility to ensure that the subject site is safe and suitable for its intended use.  It is important to prioritise this in the planning stage of a project as a failure to appropriately address risks from land affected by contamination at the time of development. Many of the most historically contaminated sites such as Gasworks have undergone regeneration in the last decade.

Remediation methods for contaminated land can vary, and these will depend on the specifics of your site, proximity to sensitive receptors, and the associated remediation objectives. TOBIN has a successful track record of delivering services including initial due diligence and desk study through to investigation, risk assessment, remediation, and post-completion monitoring.

john dillon

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sustainable development