Land quality – managing ground conditions

4.1.2Initial Assessment – desk study (all sites)

A desk study of the site and the surrounding area, that covers key and existing site information, shall be undertaken by a suitable person and include investigation of soils, geology, surface water, ground water, current and historical uses.

A desk study is the collection and examination of existing information obtained from a wide variety of sources. It should indicate potential hazards at an early stage and provide a basis for the investigation. Potential problems should be assessed according to the current and historical uses of the site and surrounding area, including those which may have been left by:

  • industrial, commercial and agricultural uses, including storage
  • mining
  • quarrying
  • landfilling and tipping.

Key information sources include:

  • the Environment Agency or its equivalent – for example, coastal erosion, landfill sites, details of water abstraction
  • the local authority – for example, planning and environmental health
  • British Geological Survey, maps and information
  • Ordnance Survey, current and previous editions of plans and aerial photographs
  • Coal Authority, mining reports – past, present and proposed mining
  • utility companies
  • county records offices, libraries, museums and local history sources
  • soil survey maps
  • the site vendor
  • in-house information
  • ongoing monitoring.