Belfast Telegraph

Builders urged not to waste clean soil

Soil from construction sites can be re-used - as long as you follow the right guidelines.

And those guidelines are now available in a new document launched by Environment Minister Edwin Poots, produced by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in partnership with other stakeholders.

Surplus soil from construction sites is classified as a waste product under the European Waste Framework Directive, meaning its movement must be regulated under waste management controls that cost both time and money. As a result, clean soils have been dumped illegally or unnecessarily gone to landfill.

Mr Poots said the guidance marked "a positive step for Northern Ireland's environment and economy".

"One of the most important aims of my department is landfill diversion. This is not only due to the financial implications of impending EU infraction fines but because it goes against the grain to bury valuable resources in to the ground," Mr Poots said. He said the guidance "will ensure what was formerly classified as waste can be re-used sustainably".

John Armstrong, Managing Director of the CEF, said: "In the past, our members could not understand why clean topsoil or other useful soils could be classified as 'waste'.

"The Federation encourages the industry to move soils responsibly and in accordance with this new guidance in order to demonstrate that we can self-regulate responsibly. This will build confidence with the regulator and prove that this type of 'lighter-touch' can work for both the industry and the environment."