First authoritative sustainable remediation framework launched in UK

The first authoritative framework highlighting the importance of incorporating sustainability issues at the forefront of the remediation and redevelopment process could set the benchmark for improved remediation and developing better places on brownfield land, according to a new report.

Launched today by the UK Sustainable Remediation Forum (SuRF-UK, a Steering Group bringing together key partners interested in contaminated land, including SAGTA, site owners, regulators and consultants facilitated by CL:AIRE), "A Framework for assessing the sustainability of soil and groundwater remediation" sets out why sustainability issues associated with remediation need to be factored in right from the outset of a project, and identifies opportunities for considering sustainability at a number of key points in a site's (re)development or risk management process.  The Framework encourages the inclusion of sustainability issues in local planning strategies, project planning, design of remediation strategies, options appraisal, implementation and verification.  In doing so, the report highlights how an essential link between the principles of sustainable development and the key criteria (environmental, social, and economic) in selecting land use design with sustainable remediation strategies and treatments is identified.  

The report allows the following to be done:

  • Place remediation at the heart of sustainable development;
  • Use sustainability indicators to optimise remediation decisions;
  • Measure the costs and wider benefits of remediation projects; and
  • Speed up decision-making by using a framework developed jointly by industry, regulators, and other experts.

Jane Garrett, Chief Executive at SuRF-UK’s facilitator, CL:AIRE, said, "CL:AIRE is delighted to have been involved in driving such a valuable initiative forward, and are most grateful for the HCA's support and to industry for the many hours of time that they have given.  The framework document is the main deliverable of Phase One of SuRF-UK and is the result of a true partnership between industry through SAGTA members, regulators, consultants and CL:AIRE to provide a document that will now provide assessors with the means to undertake a sustainability assessment of soil and groundwater remediation."

Commenting on the launch of the Framework document Director of Strategy, Performance, Policy, and Research at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Trevor Beattie, said: "The HCA welcomes the SuRF-UK Framework, which will become a crucial tool in streamlining future decision making around remediation processes and the key stages in site development.  This is a rare example of an initiative that accelerates quality regeneration, improves environmental sustainability and reduces bureaucracy – all at the same time.  It is also another major step forward in the implementation of the National Brownfield Strategy for England."

The framework draws on feedback from a broad range of organisations working in contaminated land and brownfield management via a series of open forums and consultations.