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Environmental Site Investigation (ESI)

Southwest Environmental have conducted various Phase 2 Environmental Site Investigations throughout the UK. If you require a quotation for an Environmental Site Investigation please contact us. Phases 1 & 2 ( sometimes 3 & 4) are collectively know as a Site Contamination Assessment. The phases are set out in Guiding Principals for Land Contamination. 

If there is a Site History that indicates industrial usage then it may be necessary to carry out a Phase 2 Site Investigation. This involves taking soil samples from site and sending them to a laboratory for testing. A Site Contamination Assessment Report can then be assembled. Example Site Investigation

If test results are in compliance with limits outlined under Part IIA of the Environment Act then no further action is needed. If however limits for contaminants are breached then further remedial action will be needed, or site specific risk levels can be determined.

Site Investigation Sampling

Samples can be taken from site in a number of ways including Trial Pits (machine or hand-dug), or by percussion sampling methods. For retrieval of geotechnical samples, or installation of monitoring wells more advanced equipment may be needed.

The image to the right shows a rotary drilling rig.

Whilst the equipment is on site, it is wise to take further samples for geotechnical testing, this can be arranged by Southwest Environmental. (Soil strength values and Classification etc.)


Guiding Principles for Land Contamination

Read the Guidance (pdf file) 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.environmental consultants - BH Paln

At Southwest Environmental Limited we pride ourselves on providing quality data, we use trusted contractors to deliver a quality service. many opf which we have worked with since 2009.

BH Positioning will be carried out by qualified surveyors to ensure accurate elevations. Chain of Custody will be maintained for all soil samples between site and labs.

Contaminated Land Legislation



Testing is carried out by a third party UCAS accredited laboratory.

SWEL uses a detailed Suite Tests to determine which contaminants are present in the soil samples.

On site GAS Monitoring may also be performed, which will measure both the composition and quantity of
gas emanating from the ground. Testing for VOCs cam also be arranged.gas monitoring environmental consultants

Reporting from Environmental Site Investigations

After the Information has been collected a report is assembled, which includes the factual data collected, and recommendations for further action (if necessary). SWEL uses DEFRAs CLEA Model to assess risk to near by receptors.

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.

Read About an Example Phase 2 Investigation

Contaminated Land & Site Investigation FAQs

What is Contaminated Land?
I think I am living on Contaminated Land what should I do?
What is CLEA?
Building Regulations Condition for Part A (Structure) Site Investigation Report

What can I do to protect myself from Contaminated Land?
Should I buy Contaminated Land?
Where will SWEL carry out an Environmental Site Investigation?
Hydro Carbon Testing and Speciation
How can Contaminated Land harm me and my family?
How will Contaminated Land affect the value of my site?
How do Consultants Judge if land is safe?
Types of Drilling Rig


What is Contaminated Land?

Every one is concerned about the environment nowadays. Cars are environmentally friendly, as is washing up liquid, and crisps. But not so long ago people did not care quite so much about the environment as they do now.

Composting in you back garden is a great way to reduce the impact your biodegradable waste has on the environment. But 80 years ago, people often threw ALL of the rubbish on the compost heap, including cans, bottles, batteries, left over paint and many other wastes that our councils now take care of for us.

The government was not always as well educated as it is now. Back in the 1970s the official guidance for disposing of sheep dip was to "dig a shallow pit and pour", no thought was given to where the sheep dip might go. Environmental Consultants.

Factories were also poorly regulated. If a factory making chemicals made too much of one item, they might just spread it about on the field next to the factory. No one came along to tell them off, so they used the easiest method available, and why not? No one knew they were doing anything wrong! A site investigation could help here.

So now in the present, we have lots of spots around the country where there used to be factories, or unregistered rubbish dumps and they have a negative effect on the quality of the land in that area. This is the UK's Contaminated Land "Legacy".

How can Contaminated Land harm me and my family?

Direct Contact

If you or you children play in the garden, or on public land that is contaminated then soil may stick to your skin, the contaminants may enter in to your body through the skin. Pica is a common temporary disorder in children where by they eat soils, stones, sands, books etc. Normally kids grow out of this but if you live on contaminated land and you kids like to eat soils, you may have to keep them in doors!

Pets like dogs often lick mud from their fur to get clean, again this gives an opportunity for contaminants to enter their bodies. For example dogs in Shipham, Somerset can get cadmium poisoning in just this way.


Some land owners may choose to grow vegetables on their land, vegetable grown in contaminated soil will incorporate contaminants in to their cellular structure whilst growing. It is not sufficient to wash the soil from the surface of vegetables. Eating these vegetable may lead to exposure.


It is possible to inhale dust or vapors.

Dust: In dry conditions dust containing contaminants may be inhaled.

Vapors: Vapors such as VOCs present more of a persistent problem, they can affect indoor air quality. Hydrocarbon Vapors Should also be considered. 

What can I do to protect myself from Contaminated Land?

If you are working on Contaminated Land you should follow relevant HSE guidance.

Specialised protective clothing should be worn, along with respirators and eye protection if this is deemed necessary.

Living on Contaminated Sites

If you suspect you live on a site which is contaminated you must limit your exposure to the contaminants:

  1. Check your indoor air quality. VOCs and other gases may be getting in to your home.

  2. Don't grow vegetables in the garden until you have had your soil tested by Environmental Consultants.

  3. Avoid getting soil on you or your children's skin.

This is no by no means an exhaustive list you should contact a professional if you think you are living on contaminated land, a desktop study or / and a site investigation could help deduce risk levels.

I think I am living on Contaminated Land what should I do?

If you have found out that you are living on contaminated land, you should read the rest of these FAQs. Then, if you are still confused you should ring a professional for advice.

Environmental Consultants will be happy to answer any questions you may have, ring SWEL and we will offer you advice on your situation, the initial consultation is free of charge.

How do Environmental Consultants Judge if land is safe?

The first test Environmental Consultants use is a qualitative risk assessment. This involves a Desktop Study.

If necessary, the second test Environmental Consultants use is a quantitative risk assessment. This involves a Site Investigation. SWEL use CLEA methodology to assess the exposure of contaminants to humans.

If again this flags up the possibility that potential / existing site occupiers may be at risk then a site specific quantitative risk assessment can be performed to further quantify the risk of exposure.

After judgment has been passed, an appropriate remediation and validation strategy can be formed.

Should I buy Contaminated Land?

It may work out well for you, it may not. When buying development land large sums of money are involved, and therefore high risks.

It pays to check. A Desktop Study is inexpensive, and can provide insight in to whether the patch of land you are looking to buy is a good deal. . . . or not. Have SWEL Environmental Consultants check your land before you buy, and protect your self from possible liabilities.

What is CLEA?

CLEA is a set of tools made by the EA that aim to help quantify (put numerical value to) the extent of land contamination, and there fore its impact on humans.

The site is judged on a "fit for use" basis.

A site which is intended for commercial use, has less stringent targets under CLEA than a residential site. This is based on exposure of individuals, at a work place such as an office, or factory people do not often com in to contact with the soils, as they are isolated via the building fabric. However, at residential properties there are

What are the limitations of CLEA?

The CLEA project and tools:

How will Contaminated Land affect the value of my site?

Unfortunately Land Contamination has a negative effect on the value of land. If you are buying you should be cautious. If you are selling you should bear in mind that perspective purchasers will be willing to pay less.

Clean up costs for contaminated land are significant. There are various remediation methods available.

Some very badly contaminated land may also have a negative value! Check out your soil quality with a site investigation or at the very least a desktop study before you purchase.

Where will SWEL carry out an Environmental Site Investigation?

We will carry out an Environmental Site Investigation in any part of the UK, we have offices in London, Bristol and Exeter.


S.D. Content

Contaminated Land Consultants

Bristol - 01173 270 092

Exeter - 01398 331 258

London - 02076 920 670