Borehole Solutions Discusses Phase 1 Desk Studies

by | Apr 18, 2022

There are multiple stages to any site investigation, but one of the very first is usually Phase 1 Desk Studies. These will be carried out before property transactions or prior to site development as a form of due diligence

This, of course, doesn’t clarify what this study is. Nor why it’s even necessary. To help shed some light on this, we have put together this blog which goes into a little more detail.

What Is A Phase 1 Desk Study?

To put it simply, they are a collection of documents outlining potential hazards and sources of contamination. The study will clarify the pathways by which the potential contamination may move around the site. As well as any receptors that may be impacted by the potential contamination. The relationship between source, pathway and receptor is called a pollutant linkage

These studies are typically required before any full planning permissions can be granted. Above anything else, they function as an investigative process. Many different resources will be utilised by the geoenvironmental engineer carrying out the study in order for final conclusions to be met.

This may involve highlighting former mining activity, for example, following a visit to the Coal Authority. Or else, they may approach the Local Authority with an application for archival development records. Ultimately, through the scrutiny of various sources, a comprehensive picture of a site’s risk will be detailed in the study.

What Are The Objectives Of A Phase 1 Desk Study?

Any Phase 1 Desk Study will contain several main objectives, which include:

  • Confirming whether any form of intrusive geotechnical investigation will be required.
  • Considering the flora, fauna and sensitive receptors around the site in order to assess its environmental value.
  • Detirming whether any contaminants will be found at the site.
  • Producing a CSM (Conceptual Site Model). This will represent the processes that determine how contaminants move throughout the environment.

Will A Site Walkover Be Necessary?

With the majority of Phase I reports being commissioned under planning requirements, and usually conditioned under planning approvals, a site walkover is considered the bare minimum.

So much so, that the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) says the following:

The minimum requirement that should be provided by an applicant is the report of a Preliminary Risk Assessment and site reconnaissance (walkover). This will, in some cases, be sufficient to develop a conceptual model of the source of contamination and pathways by which it might reach vulnerable receptors, as well as the means by which the identified pollutant linkages can be broken”.

Does A Phase 1 Desk Study Provide Recommendations? 

The short answer to this question is yes. Extensive recommendations will be provided, alongside the areas of risk, within the study. The various recommendations that are likely to be included can be broken down into various levels, all dependent on the requirements of your planning condition. Will findings need to be validated via an intrusive investigation, for example, or would a simply inspecting exposed subsurface soils be adequate.

Contact Borehole Solutions

Whilst documentation, on the whole, isn’t particularly thrilling, these studies are essential in the safe development of a site. Furthermore, they ensure that stakeholders aren’t left in the lurch prior to development.

With the necessity of Phase 1 Desk Studies in mind, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information. Or, indeed, to learn about any of our other geotechnical or geoenvironmental services! You can contact Borehole Solutions today on 01733 200 501.