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11th May 2011

Closed historic landfills, and some other categories of potentially contaminated or geotechnically unstable land that are difficult to redevelop, can end up being long term liabilities with no obvious productive end use. Finding economic uses for these types of marginal land can require either a large investment in remediation costs, or a less than optimal use as Public Open Space.

Historic closed landfills present several unique problems in terms of finding productive uses. The cover material is rarely engineered to a sufficient standard to isolate the waste to a state where crop production or arable uses are permissible. The nature of the underlying waste is usually such that no structures can be erected without compaction or piling, which is not an option if the waste is still degrading. Yet removing these sites from the food chain is advisable for health and safety reasons.

Growing biofuels or biomass crops on sites such as these are relatively novel for historic landfills, and present a variety of problems. However, Caulmert’s staff have been instrumental in establishing some of the first commercial biomass crops on historic closed landfills with a relatively small capital outlay.

There are many factors to be taken into consideration when choosing the right crop for a site. For example:

Can the cap/cover be ploughed once to plant the crop, or is annual ploughing permissible?
Are there restrictions on rooting depth because of the nature of underlying material?
Do cash-flow considerations mean that an annual crop is required, or can a crop every 3-5 years (e.g. from SRC) be considered?
Does the local climate at the site restrict the choice of crop?
Is the crop only economic with the help of an Establishment Grant from Natural England?
Are there facilities available for processing the crop, or will it be sold as biomass for co-firing?
Is there a local market for the crop, or its products?
Our staff have a wealth of experience in liaising with Local Authorities, the Environment Agency, Natural England and stakeholder groups which enable Caulmert to consistently deliver projects that meet and exceed our clients’ expectations.

We have experience of a range of projects involving a wide range of related specialisations, including waste management, contaminated land, planning, and civil engineering. If you would like to find out more about Caulmert’s land regeneration capabilities, please contact us.

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