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5.2 Risk assessment

Risk assessment serves a number of purposes when it comes to community projects.

  • Some land may have been contaminated by past processes and a risk assessment will show if this contamination may cause a problem to the environment or to people in the future.
  • A risk assessment may be required before a site or a project can be insured or receive planning permission from the regulatory authority.
  • Undertaking a risk assessment can help to address concerns that local people may have about the hazard that the site presents to them.

In most cases, if a risk assessment is required, it will need to be undertaken by a professional consultant to ensure it is done properly and the results are correct. An ecological approach will seek to involve the minimum technical intervention on a site but some may be required in extreme circumstances to protect people and other local environments. Normally contamination can be dealt with by the vegetation establishment process and by the passage of time.

It is also worth noting that most of the work required for a risk assessment can serve a dual purpose. Data collected on the ground conditions can help with decisions on habitats and species. Historical data can inform and educate people about the site and provide a cultural setting for restoration work.

Assessment of risk for on-site work and practical involvement is covered in the Health and Safety section of the site.

Site Assessment Process

Risk assessment

Site assessment is not something that will be needed for every plot of land. If you are the landowner or know the history of the site, for instance, there is little use in the assessment process.

If, on the other hand, the site has been long derelict or the history is unknown and contamination is suspected, site assessment is recommended.

If you'd like to know more about this process please see the Site assessment process page.

Most sites that are available for community-led projects will either not be contaminated to such a degree or will be undergoing a remediation process led by a private company or a government agency. However it may be that the influence of a community group can alter the remediation process to create a more interesting landscape with more ecological possibilities than would otherwise be the case, by reducing intervention to an absolute minimum and retaining as much of the original substrate on the surface as possible.

Go to the next section - Liabilities and regulations

Useful links

Contaminated land information

Risk assessment FAQ