The first part of the project will bring together various national databases (e.g. on location of landfills, mining waste, coastal erosion rates, coastal management plans) to provide a single map-based database of legacy landfills within the coastal zone. We will then liaise with regional specialists in government agencies and academia to collate detail on documented risks and identify high risk priority sites (e.g. those with the greatest contamination risk and / or those most affected by erosion or flooding).
The second component of the project will improve our understanding of the environmental behaviour of different waste types in coastal settings. Most risk assessments for wastes are undertaken assuming they will be in contact with freshwater (e.g. leaching tests that simulate wastes in contact with rainfall).
We will provide a significant advance on assessing environmental risks in coastal settings by testing how pollutants are released from different waste types (e.g. municipal waste, mine waste, processing wastes) under a range of environmental conditions.
Effective long term management of legacy wastes relies on many different agencies working together (e.g. councils, regulators, land owners, engineers). The final part of the project will therefore bring various stakeholders together in different parts of the UK to (1) evaluate approaches to remediation, and (2) consider management priorities put forward by the early stages of the project.
The research project beneficiaries will include government and policy organisations such as DEFRA and the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) and local authorities with opportunities to:
- Improve information on risks associated with legacy wastes
- Feed into prioritisation exercises
- Support long term management plans, accounting for climate change
Provide new policy input linking with the 25 year Environment Plan and Waste and Resources Strategy