Environmental investigations—intrusive site investigations
Produced in partnership with Argyll Environmental Ltd
Environmental investigations—intrusive site investigations

The following Environment practice note produced in partnership with Argyll Environmental Ltd provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Environmental investigations—intrusive site investigations
  • What is an intrusive site investigation?
  • Objectives of an intrusive site investigation
  • When are intrusive site investigations undertaken?
  • Development/redevelopment
  • Selling a site
  • Buying a site
  • Contaminated land determinations
  • Pollution incidents
  • Industrial facilities with authorised processes
  • More...

What is an intrusive site investigation?

An intrusive (phase 2) site investigation is an investigation undertaken by geotechnical and geo-environmental professionals to obtain information on the physical and chemical ground conditions at a site. This information is used:

  1. in the design of earthworks and foundations, and

  2. to identify whether contamination is present

The UK has adopted a risk-based approach to the identification, assessment and management of contaminated land, using the concept of a contaminant linkage (previously called a pollutant linkage), ie contaminant-pathway-receptor. For further information, see Practice Note: Contaminated land—risk assessment.

Site characterisation is usually implemented in a staged manner:

  1. screening phase: a preliminary investigation comprising a desk study

  2. phase 1: site walkover and qualitative risk assessment

  3. phase 2: intrusive site investigations involving the analysis of soil, groundwater and/or gas samples and a quantitative risk assessment

For further information on desktop studies and phase I assessments, see Practice Note: Environmental investigations—types of searches and investigations.

Objectives of an intrusive site investigation

The objectives of a phase 2 site investigation will vary depending on the receptors that are involved and the current or proposed land use, but typically includes the following:

  1. to provide information on contamination of the soil and groundwater

  2. to provide information on natural or background concentrations of potentially hazardous materials

  3. to detect and assess the

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