The UK government recently announced that they plan to invest heavily in the redevelopment of land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure but is currently disused or derelict, to help create more affordable housing. £11.5bn has been allocated for 180,000 new homes in this sector.
Affordable housing is a residential property for sale or rent aimed at those whose needs are not met by the market, including a subsidised route to home ownership and/or for essential local workers.
In urban planning, the terminology for such sites is Brownfield land (also known as previously developed land) as opposed to Greenfield land, which is urban or rural land that may be agricultural or in a natural state but is being considered for urban development.
Demolition and remediation
Brownfield sites are often centrally located in towns and cities and will have previously been used for commercial or industrial purposes. Often in prime locations, this land is often easier to acquire than other real estates because it will require remediation before it can be redeveloped.
Existing buildings may need to be demolished and there may also be a need for ground decontamination depending on the industrial history of the site. Some inner-city areas have a lot of land contamination issues, many of which are due to poor historic practices such as dumping harmful and toxic compounds into the ground to clear land quickly, either for development or sale.
Brownfield land registers provide information on sites that local authorities consider to be appropriate for residential development. The criteria for a Brownfield site means it must be at least 0.25 hectares or capable of supporting at least five dwellings and must be suitable and available for residential development (the owner has expressed an intention to sell or develop). That development must also be achievable, which means likely to take place within 15 years of the register entry date.
Remediating Brownfield land is specialised work; uncovering and releasing hidden harmful and carcinogenic compounds can be not only damaging to health and the environment but also very costly, so managing the process is a major challenge. Many land development projects can also last for several years so it is vital that personal exposure monitoring is enforced throughout for all onsite employees who are at risk.
Another key aspect of Brownfield sites is that access may be difficult or restricted as they may be surrounded by commercial or residential properties in built-up areas which are still in use. This can require the installation of boundary monitoring systems to ensure parameters stay within strict local government limits to protect the health of local residents and site workers.
Remediation is also good for the environment and helps with community regeneration. The sites are often an ugly scar on the current landscape while also presenting real environmental health hazards. There are often leftover substances and materials in the soil so developers will take ownership of intense monitoring to understand their composition and exactly how harmful they are prior to treatment or removal.
Shawcity already supports many Brownfield remediation customers across the UK and Ireland and within our product portfolio, we offer a wide range of monitoring equipment suitable for both environmental and health and safety monitoring throughout the different phases of a remediation project.
In the pre-construction phase, Shawcity supplies monitoring equipment to complete the initial investigation and sample analysis as quickly and efficiently as possible. We offer technology for continuous ground gas monitoring, borehole sampling and water contamination to gain a clear picture of soil conditions and contamination levels.
In recent years we have also seen a steady growth in demand to measure aromatic and carcinogenic compounds such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX group) in land development applications. Ideal solutions for this include photoionization detectors (PIDs) and benzene sampling tubes to monitor real-time concentrations and minimise exposure.
PIDs are often used on contaminated sites to protect banksman, excavator drivers and other frontline site workers with a real-time indication to exposure. Wearing a personal PID unit offers a PPM display, inbuilt alarms alongside data logging features such as STEL (short-term exposures limits) and TWAs (time weighted averages) for exposure logs and reporting for individual personnel.
Personal and site monitoring
During the next phase, when construction begins continuous environmental and boundary monitoring solutions can be deployed to monitor noise, dust, air quality, ground vibration and gas emissions on and around the site. The data for these systems can be stored in the cloud and accessed remotely. Ongoing water monitoring also helps to maintain and protect the quality of local water sources.
Handheld and wearable personal gas detection technology are used again to protect the health and safety of workers from immediate risk during construction, such as confined spaces or pit monitoring. Other longer-term or cumulative health risks, such as hearing damage and hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), can be managed through the introduction of noise dosimeters and tool timers.
Long-established and well-experienced within the industry, Shawcity provides a complete remediation toolkit with elements available to hire or buy. All customers receive free consultations, ongoing technical support and product training as well as fleet management support through our manufacturer-authorised in-house service centre for servicing, calibration, spares and repairs.
“My team and many others across our business have been working with Shawcity for years now, and with good reason. We have consistently received excellent support and advice and they have helped move us forward as a company. Through their support we have kept up with the latest in technology development and we know we’re getting top quality, reliable products correctly matched for the specific tasks we require them for, along with excellent service.”
Gavin Craig, Site Manager, Erith Contractors
Contact us for more information or to arrange a free consultation, demonstration or site visit:
Tel: 01367 899553