03. Environmental Desk Study
My site is a greenfield site. Will a 'light report' suffice for desk study purposes?
What we think
With respect to a ‘Phase 1 Light’ we would tend to reserve this for developers who wish to purchase a site and need preliminary information to inform their decision. These types of report can be upgraded to a ‘proper’ Phase 1 at little extra cost after the purchase. As this is an actual development site we are of the opinion that to cut corners is likely to represent a false economy on two counts.
Firstly, the local authority may well reject an incomplete document. In this context we are well aware that the various local authorities are not consistent, but to second guess their approach may well lead to additional conditions imposed on the project, which could result in delays to the works and hence increase in costs to the developer. Indeed, there is a school of thought that suggests that a well executed Phase 1 Desk Study can have a positive effect on the attitude of the authority. The argument is that the developer demonstrates that they wish to complete the work to an ‘appropriate’ standard, thus trust is built up between the two parties, which starts the project off on the right foot. We are convinced that the small additional cost of ‘getting it right’ is compensated by a significantly smoother passage for the whole of the development. If un-necessary arguments between the developer an local authority start at this stage, it can taint the relationship between the two parties, which must be detrimental.
Secondly, a well executed Phase 1 desk Study can realise issues which have not been foreseen but may have a profound effect on the development. We know of many times where the presumption of a clean site has been disproved by testing that has identified issues with the site (contaminated fill, air borne contaminants from adjacent factories or migrating ground gas). The presumption of green field sites is not adequate for a diligent local authority. They need sufficient evidence to enable them to sign off the conditions.
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