Managing our land sustainably.
What is contaminated land?
Contaminated land refers to land that by reason of substances in, on, or under the land, is causing, or could cause, significant harm to people, protected species or pollution to surface and groundwater.
Much of our land surrounding the railway has historically been used for things like freight storage and refuelling, which means there is a chance it is now contaminated. We may also have bought land which is contaminated or our tenants may have caused contamination.
Why is contaminated land important to Network Rail?
The nature of our works means that our operations can pose a high risk for the environment. If we are working on a designated contaminated land site there is a risk that if we do not manage our works appropriately we may open up a contaminant pathway and cause harm to either the environment and/or human health. It is also important that we manage our works appropriately so as not to create any new sites of contaminated land. .
What is Network Rail’s approach to contaminated land?
When planning works, the designated person will need to check and determine whether or not the land for the proposed works is classified as contaminated. This assessment will determine what action we need to take, and will take the form of a desktopreview in the first instance. If the contamination is not moving or causing harm, we may not need to do anything, however we will need to ensure that our works are not going to open up a pathway for movement.
Primarily, records of contaminated land are available on Geo-RINM Viewer (Network Rail access only) but other potential sources should be consulted including the local authority’s contaminated land registers. Where the reason for the contaminated land record is not given, tests may be necessary to determine what the land is contaminated with. We have contractors who can carry this out and, depending on the type and level of contamination found, we may need to make changes to budgets and timelines.
We have to take extra care with proposed works on contaminated land as there could be associated risks to our employees, and the possibility that our intervention could cause the contamination to spread. First we’d need to make sure we know what the land is contaminated with and what we can do to prevent the contamination spreading. Without improving or fixing contamination on a site, the activities that we can undertake maybe restricted.
We rely on good record keeping and need to have up-to-date information on our sites. If you have been working on contaminated land, you will need records for any close-out licences and consents at the end of the project. Even if you have not carried out your planned work because you have identified contaminated land, make sure databases are updated with the new records.
For specific contaminated land concerns please contact the National Helpline on 03457 11 41 41 or follow this link for a number of ways to get in touch.