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Phase 1: Desktop Study

SWEL will undertake a phase 1 desktop study in any part of the UK. This will be a 30 page report written by a geologist and will be tailor written for your site. SWEL guarantee that your district planning authority's content requirements for a desktop study will be met.

A Phase 1 Desktop Study (see an example desktop study) is often required by local planning authorities, when applying for planning permission. New build and change of use both require planning and therefore a Phase 1 Desktop Study to be compiled (desktop study contents), SWEL will undertake a desktop study in any part of the UK.

desktop study - Geological Map A "Desktop Study" report outlines the Site History, Geology and Hydrogeology, and any environmental risk associated with that particular plot.

We put together this information in the form of a Desktop Study Report that can be submitted at the relevant time to the local planning authority.

If you are buying land and are worried about possible contamination (an old garage forecourt for example) then it is wise to have an Desktop Study carried out before purchase.

Land Contamination may affect the value of the property.


Other sites with dubious past histories / possible contamination issues might include:

-Petrol Stations
-Farms
-Work Shops
-Coal Yards
-Factories
-Industrial Units
-Brewery
-Gas Works
-Timber Yards / Saw Mills
-Shops
-Restaurants
desktop study - Uffculme History
Contaminated Land News (May 2010)

EA releases "Guiding Principles for Land Contamination"

The EA has released a collection of "guidance that replaces our document ’Environment Agency requirements for land contamination reports’." The guidance is aimed at land owners, specialists and consultants and clarifies the governments stance on dealing with the large areas of contaminated land in the UK.

Read the Guidance (pdf file)

As well as outlining Environmental Risk a Desktop Study also informs of Geotechnical related risk on the site, known occurrences of subsidence, and man made ground etc. are detailed in the report.

Contaminated Land News

Please feel free to telephone the office for a free informal discussion regarding any of the services we provide. Detailed written quotations can be provided upon request.

Contaminated Land FAQs

Desktop Study FAQs

Can I read about an Example Desktop Study? What information is in a Desktop Study? Should I be worried that my LPA have asked for a Desktop Study?
         
Where can I find more information on a Desktop Study?   Can I write my own Desktop Study   What is the next step after a Desktop Study?
         
How does a Desktop Study Work?   Where will SWEL Carry out a Desktop Study?   Who will assemble the Desktop Study report?
         
What is the price of a Desktop Study?   Desktop Study and Site Investigations   Is a Desktop Study just used for planning applications?

Can I write my own Desktop Study?

Unfortunately not. The Environment Act 1995 Pat 2A states that only a "qualified person" can undertake a Desktop Study. At SWEL we have experienced and educated staff (Who?) that are experienced in assembling Desktop Studies.

How does a Desktop Study work?

A Desktop Study works by using information from secondary (data, maps) and primary (photos and surveys) sources to establish the risk that exists to future inhabitants of a site, that may or may not be contaminated from historic or present day activities. So unlike a Site Investigation a Desktop Study uses a "Reading" approach rather than a "Digging" approach. A step by step "How it Works"

1 - You give us the "go-ahead".
2 - We collect data on your site. Maps, Pollution Incidents etc.
3 - We visit your site to conduct a walkover survey.
4 - We write the report.
5 - We conclude the report with recommendations as to the risk posed by contaminated land (if any) to future inhabitants, and sensitive receptors   in the area. A receptor is anything that may be impacted on by contamination, a river, a tree etc.

The first discussion is always free, so drop us a line / call with any questions.

What is the cost of a Desktop Study?

Almost certainly under a £1000. Any more than that is hard to say, it depends on the size of the site and its past usage. Larger more industrial sites will be more expensive whilst your average back garden will be a lot less.  

Elaboration based on two examples:

1 - Petrol Station with Workshops: Walkover Survey will involve entering building, looking down man hole covers, looking in cupboards etc. Surplus to usual secondary information Data will have to be sought from Local Council to confirm / disconfirm the presence of buried tanks.

2 - Back Garden: Will only require the simplest of walkover surveys, and no extra secondary data will be needed (in most cases).  

We are sorry we can't give a fixed price, but we only need a little bit of information about your site to give you a quote. Give SWEL a ring and we will give you a price instantly, which we will then follow up with a formal quotation, if the price is to your liking!

What is the Next Step after a Desktop Study?

There often isn't a next step, a Desktop Study is often the only evidence needed to discharge your planning condition. Please ring / email SWEL - Environmental Consultants for informal discussion.

Who will Assemble the Desktop Study?

A professional environmental geologist with a minimum of 5 years experience will assemble your desktop study.

Should I be worried that my LPA have asked for a Desktop Study?

If you have already completed on the sale of your property then yes, perhaps you might be a little apprehensive, the outcome of the desktop study may well have affect on the value of the property you have purchased. If you haven't completed on the purchase then you would be sensible to asses onsite soil quality. Get the desktop study done, if the site has a dubious past then it may be a bargaining chip to reduce the price.

The outcome of the study is 80% of the time fairly easy to predict if you have a study on a;

i) Petrol Station: Then the outcome of the study will almost certainly recommend further work, namely a Site Investigation. This might equally apply to disused factories, or workshops.
ii) Back Garden: Quiet often due to their brown field status (which is due to change) gardens are recommended for a Desktop Study. These sometime come up with no dubious history, and as such no further work is needed. However, there are the in-betweenies: desktop study - petrol station

iii) Open plot within an Urban Setting: This type of scenario could go either way. Was it allotments or was is a foundry. Only a desktop study will reveal the sites past contamination issues. It is this instance (iii) when a Desktop Study is most useful. So in short you may a have a little worry, but land contamination can in 19/20 cases be adapted to, and if it does turn out that your land is contaminated, it doesn't mean you won't be able to build on it (unless its really bad) and solutions can be found. For a free initial consultation ring / email the office, and we can answer any question you may have. Environmental Consultants.  

What information is in a desktop study?

A typical Desktop Study Report is around 60-70 pages in length. It contains the following information:

1- The Report: It is stipulated in Government Legislation that only a qualified person can make recommendations on brown field development, a SWEL desktop study is only ever assembled by a qualified geo-scientist. In the desktop study there is various generic information regarding to the site, a risk assessment, and recommendations, which will say whether SWEL Environmental Consultants recommend that your build / planning approval go ahead, or that there is a site investigation leading to a quantitative risk assessment. Photos: Photos of the site, especially problem areas, if there are any.

2 - Maps: Historic Maps, Geological Maps, Geo-hydrological Maps, Site Location Maps, Arial Photos.

3- Conceptual Models: Various models are included visually explaining how you site may interact with the environment. The first discussion is always free, so drop us a line / call with any questions.

Where will SWEL carry out a Desktop Study

SWEL can provide Desktop Studies in any part of the UK such as Bristol, London, Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth, Bath, Swindon etc.

We never charge travel expenses to our clients for Desktop Study Walkover Survey visit, it is included in any price you may receive from us.

Charging mileage / travel expenses is against our company ethos.
UK_Map_desktop_study 

What is the price of a Desktop Study?

The bottom line!

Certainly less than £1000, unless you site is very big. We only need to know the most basic of details to provide a quote so please call us.

Desktop Study and Site Investigations

A desktop study would normally precede a site investigation and many would argue that it is essential. However, production of a formal report can be avoided if it deemed necessary to undertake a site investigation. Some site such a petrol stations and scrap yards will definitely need a site investigation. So it would seem surplus to requirements to produce a formal desktop study report. However there should always be a desktop element within the site investigation, underlying geology, location of potential hot spots, made ground can all be identified via desktop study, and as such a review of available data should be included whether this forms part of the desktop study or part of the site contamination assessment report.

Is a Desktop Study just used for planning applications?

Most of the desktop studies undertaken by southwest environmental are for planning applications, whether if these applications relate to a new project or change of use.

However desktop studies are also used in some other areas of our work namely site condition reporting for environmental permits. When used in site condition reporting there are used to assess likely ground quality, and provide a qualitative baseline for soil quality at the time of reporting.

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