Contaminated Land

The term ‘asbestos’ relates to several fibrous minerals regulated under UK law that are known to cause serious health effects (including mesothelioma and lung cancer) when inhaled. Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were widely used in construction, and it is difficult (and sometimes not possible) to ensure that all asbestos is removed before demolition. Building rubble is liable to contain ACM, and may contain free fibres. ACM fragments in rubble or soil can be difficult to detect by the naked eye whereas free fibres in rubble or soil are generally not visible.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012 requires actions to ensure the protection of workers and general public from asbestos exposures resulting from work activities. However, current case law suggests that landowners and developers could find themselves liable for claims under the Compensation Act 2006 in the future, even if CAR and planning requirements have been satisfied. In order to avoid such claims, adequate attention needs to be paid to potential risks from asbestos-containing soils (ACSs) during all redevelopment.


Previously-developed land – so-called ‘brownfield’ sites – may be found to be contaminated by asbestos. Abandoned industrial premises, former waste disposal sites (including those reclaimed for agricultural or amenity use etc.) and other derelict or unused land may potentially be contaminated by buried asbestos to some degree. At some sites, asbestos may also be present on the surface, e.g. on sites where it was used for heat insulation (as lagging for pipes or tanks), for fire control, or in the construction of walls and roofs of buildings. In addition, asbestos waste may have been illegally dumped on derelict industrial land.

Asbestos may also become entrained in soil and C&D materials on a brownfield site due to demolition activities, where asbestos has not been fully removed from site structures prior to demolition. It is of note that CAR 2012 (regulation 7(3)) allows certain well-bonded asbestos products, usually with low asbestos content, to remain in situ in buildings that are being demolished (where removal is not reasonably practicable). As a consequence, demolition arisings (C&D materials) containing ACMs may have been crushed and used as infill or levelling (aggregate) materials on some development sites.

Soil and C&D materials may also be found to be contaminated with visible free, dispersed asbestos fibre bundles. It may also be the case that dispersed asbestos fibre contamination is only identifiable through laboratory analysis. Such asbestos contamination would not normally be described as being debris, although these materials are still covered by the Regulations.

Fusion TechnicalContaminated Land Consultants offer a range of services working in partnership with a dedicated surveying and investigation team. These are tailored to provide a solution that will help deal with the most complex scenarios in an efficient and cost effective manner. Our range of services include:

In the initial planning stages, Laboratory Analysis of the land should be undertaken in order to assess the level of risk, and implement a safe system of work. This can be followed by assessment of all staff and contractors to ensure their safety, and your legal protection.

Working alongside our team of Specialist Excavators experienced in land remediation we are able to ensure a best practice approach, from the initial site review and desktop study, through to intrusive site investigation and site remediation.