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Waste Management

A Guide to Landfill

Waste Management
A Guide to Landfill

Please note: References to the masculine include, where appropriate,

the feminine
Published by RICS Business Services Limited
a wholly owned subsidiary of
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
under the RICS Books imprint
12 Great George Street
London SW1P 3AD
No responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or
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this publication can be accepted by the author or publisher.
ISBN 0 85406 883 X
RICS September 1998. Copyright in all or part of this publication
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parts shall be reproduced by any means electronic, mechanical,
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RICS Guidance Notes

This is a Guidance Note. It provides advice to Members of the RICS on aspects
of the profession. Where procedures are recommended for specific professional
tasks, these are intended to embody best practice, i.e. procedures which in the
opinion of the RICS meet a high standard of professional competence.
Members are not required to follow the advice and recommendations contained
in the Note. They should however note the following points.
When an allegation of professional negligence is made against a surveyor, the
Court is likely to take account of the contents of any relevant Guidance Notes
published by the RICS in deciding whether or not the surveyor had acted with
reasonable competence.
In the opinion of the RICS, a Member conforming to the practices recommended
in this Note should have at least a partial defence to an allegation of negligence
by virtue of having followed those practices. However, Members have the
responsibility of deciding when it is appropriate to follow the guidance. If it is
followed in an appropriate case, the Member will not be exonerated merely
because the recommendations were found in an RICS Guidance Note.
On the other hand, it does not follow that a Member will be adjudged negligent
if he has not followed the practices recommended in this Note. It is for each
individual surveyor to decide on the appropriate procedure to follow in any
professional task. However, where Members depart from the practice
recommended in this Note, they should do so only for good reason. In the event
of litigation, the Court may require them to explain why they decided not to adopt
the recommended practice.
In addition, Guidance Notes are relevant to professional competence in that each
surveyor should be up to date and should have informed himself of Guidance
Notes within a reasonable time of their promulgation.

RICS Guidance Notes




General Background


Details of Landfill Legislation

Planning legislation and development control
Development plans
Planning permission
Waste management licensing
Protection of water quality



Site Licensing
Long-term funding
Use of a bond
The application



Inert Waste Landfills



Landfill Practice



Closed sites
Operational sites



Development of land adjacent to landfill sites
Development of land on and around landfill sites



Accelerated Stabilisation
Effects on site engineering
Filling methods



Factors Considered when Assessing Completion



Agricultural Considerations
Waste management
Landfill gas management
Compaction and settlement






List of Abbreviations
Practical Points
Essential Questions
Legislation Relevant to Operation, Monitoring
and Control





The purpose of this Guidance Note is to act as a reference for surveyors.

Its aim is to be an aide-mmoire, information source and reference for
more detailed information. It concentrates on landfill but many of the
issues raised are of wider relevance.


In making any reference to the document chartered surveyors should be

aware that there are others in the profession who specialise in waste
management matters. A list of contacts may be obtained from the RICS
Information Centre (tel: 0171 222 7000).


Waste management is becoming an increasingly complex topic but

remains an important area for rural practice and other surveyors. It is
also an area where both legislation and site practice are changing and
this has both short- and long-term implications for site negotiation and


Landfill tax is not included as a separate item in this guidance.

Information is available from the RICS on this topic as well as from
HM Customs & Excise.


Landfill is a complex process but proceeds in discrete stages usually

initiated by the granting of a planning permission and subsequent waste
management licence. It is important that landfill is seen as a continuing
process with inputs from all involved in the process to ensure the
integration of all objectives. It is essential that the proposed afteruse
and restoration parameters are discussed and built into the process at
the planning stage and not left until the site is nearing completion.




Before a formal application for planning permission is made, discussions

between an applicant for a potential landfill site and the relevant planning
authority are essential. The Environment Agency (EA) and in some
cases the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) or the
Forestry Authority should also be consulted. The applicant can then
draw up proposals and undertake any necessary site assessments with
a view to a chosen afteruse, taking into account the likely requirements
of the planning authorities and other bodies.


The Planning Compensation Act 1991 gave powers to local planning

authorities to impose after-care conditions on planning permission,
revocation orders and discontinuance orders in respect of development
involving the depositing of any types of refuse or waste materials. This
applies to landfill sites. Advice on the imposition of aftercare conditions
in respect of mineral workings is given in Minerals Planning Guidance
Note (MPG) 7, the Reclamation of Mineral Workings, and may to some
extent be helpful for the reclamation of landfill sites.


The controls on the surrender of site licences under the Environmental

Protection Act 1990 are complex and far-reaching. It is likely that
pollution controls over a particular landfill site will remain in force long
after the restoration and aftercare requirements under the planning
permission have been completed and the afteruse of the site commenced. In such circumstances, if the pollution control monitoring and
remedial activities affect such land there may need to be provision to
remedy any damage. A provision may still be in force, or, in the case of

new planning permission this will be done through a planning obligation

or other agreement.

A checklist of the key matters which will be considered by the EA

should be made. When drafting licences, this is available from the EA
regional office. Some issues will need to be discussed with the local
Planning Authority at the planning application stage if there are to be
significant planning implications, for example where effective leachate
and gas control systems are important to achieve afteruse objectives.
This list is a useful aide-mmoire for considering impacts and relevant
points to be covered in negotiation.



Planning legislation and development control


Development control is exercised through the local planning authorities.

The relationship between the planning system and pollution control
legislation is explained in Planning Policy Guidance Note 23 Planning
and Pollution Control (PPG23) (England). The planning system focuses
on whether the development itself is an acceptable use of land rather
than on the control processes and substances which have potentially
harmful effects on the environment.


The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Planning Compensation
Act 1991 control the use of land for waste disposal through:
development plans;
the grant or refusal of planning permission.
Development plans


Development plans are prepared at both county and district levels in

England and Wales, and must have regard to national and regional
planning policy guidance. Any determination under the Planning Acts
must have regard to the development plan, and the determination shall
be made in accordance with the plan unless material considerations
indicate otherwise. Development plans must also comply with EC
requirements, including the Framework Directive on Waste (75/442/EEC,
as amended by 91/156/EEC and 91/692/EEC). Development plans
comprise county-wide structure plans and district-wide local plans. In
London the metropolitan areas and unitary authorities are combined into
unitary development plans. Special arrangements apply in National
Parks. These plans give strategic advice on the development and use of
land in a particular area and include policies in respect of potentially
polluting development.


Other relevant plans for landfill development include waste disposal

plans and waste local plans. The development plan framework provides
an opportunity for the requirements and constraints of waste disposal
strategies to be considered in the context of the overall development
and use of land and, where appropriate, sets out broad criteria to be
applied in identifying waste disposal sites. Every opportunity should be
taken to refer to and input into waste plans as it is these which direct
and control waste issues within an area.
Planning permission


The determination of landfill applications is the responsibility of the

county or unitary authorities in England and district councils in Wales

and Scotland. Planning permission is required for the use of land for
waste disposal, except for certain permitted development under the
Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order
1995. Environmental issues are one of the material considerations
which planning authorities have to take into account when dealing with

For developments which are likely to have significant environmental

statement effects on the environment, developers may be required to
submit an environmental statement with their planning application, in
accordance with the Town and County Planning (Assessment of
Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988.


The Environmental Assessment Regulations and circulars describe the

process of environmental assessment, and the specified information to
be reported in the environmental statement. In summary, this information
a description of the development, incorporating the site, the design
and scale of the proposals;
baseline data to identify and assess the main environmental effects
of development; and
a description of the likely environmental effects of the development,
whether direct, indirect, permanent, temporary, positive or negative,
and measures proposed to mitigate adverse effects.


Projects to dispose of special waste fall within Schedule 1 of the EA

Regulations, where environmental assessment is mandatory. Other
waste disposal activities fall within Schedule 2 where environmental
assessment is required if a development is judged likely to give rise to
significant environmental effects. Guidance given in Department of the
Environment (DoE) Circular 15/88 on indicative criteria thresholds for
environmental assessment of Schedule 2 projects indicates a threshold
level of 75,000 tonnes per year waste capacity for waste disposal
installations, including landfill sites. The key criteria is the likelihood of
significant environmental effects. Many landfill proposals will fall into this
category and so may require environmental assessment, even where
proposed input is less than the indicative threshold.
Waste management licensing


The Environmental Protection Act 1990 prohibits the deposit of

controlled (directive) waste, in or on land, unless a waste management
licence authorising the deposit is in force. It also prohibits the disposal
of waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or
harm to human health.


The purpose of licensing is to ensure that the disposal of controlled

waste does not give rise to:
pollution of the environment;
harm to human health; or
serious detriment to the amenities of the locality (unless a planning
consent is already valid).
Licences are issued subject to conditions designed to ensure that the
development and operation of a landfill site will not cause any of these


An application for a waste management licence must be made to the EA.

Guidance on the preparation and content of licences is contained in

Waste Management Paper (WMP) 4. The applicant is required to set out

in a working plan how the landfill is to be prepared and operated. This is
a detailed document which shows how the landfill will be built and

During the preparation and operational phases of the landfill, the EA

will inspect the site regularly to ensure that the development is in
accordance with the licence and working plan.


Once issued, a licence may only be surrendered if the EA is prepared

to accept it back. Normally this will only be once the EA is assured that
the site has stabilised and it is satisfied that the site is unlikely to cause
pollution of the environment or harm to human health. Details of how a
landfill can be assessed for completion are given in WMP26A.


The Environmental Protection Act 1990 introduced the requirement for a

fit and proper person to hold a waste management licence. Guidance in
WMP4 sets out the criteria for this based on three components:
conviction for a relevant offence;
technical competence; and
financial provision.
Protection of water quality


The Water Resources Act 1991 is concerned with the pollution of

controlled waters, which include rivers and other inland surface and
underground water, estuaries and territorial waters. It is an offence if a
person causes or knowingly permits any poisonous, noxious or polluting
matter, or any solid waste matter, to enter any controlled waters.


To comply with the Water Resources Act 1991, a landfill development

may require discharge consent in addition to planning permission and
a waste management licence. Under the Water Industry Act 1991,
discharges to ground and surface watercourses are the responsibility
of the EA while any disposal to a sewer will require consent from the
relevant sewerage authority.



Nuisance from noise, odour, smoke and fumes is covered in the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which is regulated by
local authority environmental health officers.


The holistic approach to landfill development encompasses landfill

engineering, landscape design and planned afteruse, with the landscape
architect playing an important role in the restoration concept. The landfill designer must therefore take account of the landscape and planned
afteruse requirements in the technical design of the engineering layers.


Afteruse considerations may require that a complex landform is produced.

However, the fundamental objectives and performance criteria of the
engineering cap must not be compromised, and the designer should
overcome such additional constraints by specific measures. These may
include locally strengthening the engineering cap, or creating the
required surface undulations within the restoration layer above a more
uniformly sloping capping membrane. The engineering designer should
work with the landscape architect/afteruse designer to produce a
landform appropriate to both its engineering and projected afteruse


Occupiers should be aware that, in the majority of cases, rates will be

payable on landfill operations. Under normal circumstances the rating
assessment will reflect the quantity of materials deposited within or on
the site.



Long-term funding


All landfill licences in future will subsist well beyond the cessation of
The period of post-closure control and monitoring may last 30 years or
more and could be longer than the actual landfilling operations. Once
the site ceases accepting waste it will not be generating income from
the waste disposal.
Use of a bond


In some cases, the local planning authority may have obtained a planning
agreement with the applicant involving the use of a bond to secure the
preliminary restoration of the site after the cessation of landfilling.
To secure the desired result, detailed specification of the work to be
carried out under the bond needs to be set out.


The EA must assess, among other things, the facilitys potential for
causing environmental pollution, and the applicants proposals for
mitigating it.

The EA would expect to be consulted by those undertaking

environmental assessments during the assessment process.
If any pollution is likely to affect land use, either at the site in question
or in the surrounding area, the local planning authority may need to
take account of it, and may also need to consider whether antipollution systems and controls are compatible with, or adequate in
view of, the wider planning objectives.

Having said the above, it should be remembered that planning controls

are not an appropriate means for the detailed control of pollution from
waste management facilities. This should always be done by the EA
through the licensing system. In the same way, licence conditions
should not cover issues which are fundamentally about development
and land use, except where there is no planning permission.

If a waste facility might cause pollution, that possibility will almost

certainly be a material consideration in the determination of a planning
application for the facility. In particular, many waste management
facilities will need to be subjected to an environmental assessment.
The application


All waste management licence applications should include at least the

following information:



the location of the facility, specifying any existing development

within 250 metres of the boundary of the site. If the facility (as
with a landfill) is likely to cause mechanical disturbance, be a
source of spillages, or otherwise put underground services at
risk, existing development will include underground services;


the location of the boundaries, specifying what identifies them on

the ground;


the ownership of the site; the applicants interest in the land;


the planning permission; or the established used certificate; or

the certificate of lawful use; or the appeal decision letter; or a
planning application; or a statement showing why none of these
is required;


any relevant convictions; the technical competence of the

licensee; the financial provision to be made by the applicant;


an assessment of the physical environment of the site - this will

normally include the site topography, meteorology, geology and
hydrogeology; the quality of air, surface water and groundwater,
and soil, although the scope may vary with the type of facility;


the working plan - among other things, this should cover:


the infrastructure to be provided, used or converted, including

the construction and location of all storage facilities; and


detailed descriptions of the water management processes

to be carried out on the site.


full details of the pollution controls measures and monitoring

arrangements; and


for landfill sites, the operators plans for the management of gas
and leachate, and for capping and restoration.


As a guide to the monitoring detail, four survey points per hectare are
recommended for settlement measurements.
Once any control systems have been phased out, sampling should be
carried out for sufficient time to ensure that any changes in the
condition of the waste have been detected. Two periods are
recommended - five years in cases where no significant appropriate
monitoring has been carried out at the site, and two years where the
site is already reasonably well characterised.





Many sites were licensed under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 (the
forerunner of the Environmental Protection Act) to accept inert wastes.
However, experience has shown that inert was a misnomer. A very high
proportion of these sites contained slowly degrading materials, such as
wood from demolition waste, and that subsequently gave rise to the
production of landfill gas and leachate.

Therefore, only genuinely inert waste should be permitted at sites

licensed for inert waste. For such sites, licence conditions should
specify the individual types of waste that will be acceptable, such as
soil, sand, clay, stone, concrete, bricks, slate, glass and ceramics. The
conditions should avoid the use of the term inert waste, except where
categorising the licence.

Conditions which set arbitrary limits - for example, on paper and cardboard
typically at 5% or 10% of the waste input - in order to allow an amount
of accidental or adventitious contamination, are ineffective and enforceable.
Source-based descriptions, such as waste from the construction
industry, should also be avoided.




Landfill designers must consider probable changes in landfill practice

and waste input that may occur over the whole lifetime of the landfill,
from conception to completion of aftercare, and should, where possible,
make provision for these changes, or allow for them to be incorporated
at a later stage. A process of periodic review should be used throughout
the life of the site and prior to the design at later stages. The EA
reviews licences on a five-year rolling programme.


The design of the landform is the starting point of the design of a

landfill at a given location. The landform is a key factor in determining
the standard of restoration achievable, afteruse and waste capacity of
the site, and its design needs to take into account the likely waste input
to the facility and the landscaping requirements in the context of the
surrounding land. The key factors affecting the landform are:
maximum and minimum surface gradients;
settlement; and
waste density.


Initial settlement values of 12-17% have been reported for household

waste sites in the UK with long term (30-year) values of approximately
20%. Values of 15-20% are accepted as being typical of the surcharge
of allowance that may need to be made when considering the void
capacity and final pre-settlement contours of a household waste landfill.
The effects of settlement need to be considered in quarry landfills, or in
landfills whose base is non-uniform (or stepped), and measures need to
be taken to avoid problems due to differential settlement, which can
lead to stresses and breaks in the engineering cap, and possible
drainage problems.


The responsibility for the assessment and monitoring of closed sites

for which there is no licence rests primarily on the land-owner. The
Environmental Health Authority should also assess the likely risk to
public health or of nuisance and decide in the light of evidence
available what action should be taken.



Closed sites


The majority of closed sites are unlikely to have monitoring boreholes.


Where it is concluded by the site assessment that no gas is being, or is

likely to be, produced and there is no risk to development, then there
should be no need to undertake monitoring (see paragraph 4.6). For
other sites the frequency of monitoring should be determined by the site
assessment. As a guide, waste management guidance recommends
that rural sites with no control system installed should be monitored four
times per annum. This frequency should be increased at sites with
control systems. Monthly inspection is recommended where there is
building development or where there are services within 250 metres of
the deposited wastes. Sites should be monitored at least weekly where
any development is within 50 metres of a waste disposal containing
significant amounts of biodegradable materials. Where gas migration
has been identified, more frequent monitoring may be necessary.
Operational sites

The assessment should determine the frequency of monitoring for sites.

As a guide, however, for isolated rural sites, where quantities of
biodegradable wastes have been deposited, gas monitoring frequency
should, initially, be on a monthly basis. For routine monitoring this may
be extended to three-monthly intervals. For all sites taking or which
have taken biodegradable wastes, and that have buildings or services
within 250 metres of the limit of filling, monitoring should initially take
place at least weekly, or more frequently, if gas migration has been
identified. The monitoring frequency should be subject to regular review.


Development of land adjacent to landfill sites


Where development is proposed within 250 metres of a landfill site,

whether operational, awaiting restoration or restored, the developer will
need to take account of the proximity of the proposed development to
the landfill and investigate the geology and topography of the area.
Under the Town and Country Planning Development Order 1988,
planning authorities are now required to consult the EA on development
within 250 metres of a landfill site either active or closed within the last
30 years. Local authority registers of land which may be contaminated,
compiled under Section 143 of the Environmental Protection Act, record
the locations of both closed and operational landfills and provide an
additional aid to identify such sites. For operational sites, whilst all gas
should be controlled, it is possible that some minor escape, which may
originally have been acceptable, could become significant by a change
in use of land around the site.
Development of land on and around landfill sites



Afteruse of landfill sites should normally be restricted to agriculture or

similar uses. Where control systems permit, the land may be used for
public open space, conservation or recreation. It is recognised that
there will be pressures for other forms of development. This should be
possible, provided adequate precautions are taken. In particular, older
landfills in urban areas can be developed for non-housing uses, such as
supermarkets and light industrial units, subject to detailed investigation
and design in accordance with current advice and guidance. It is recommended that no housing be built within 50 metres of any landfill site with
gas concentrations in excess of the limits given in Paragraph 7.9 of
WMP27 or which still has the potential to produce large quantities of

gas. Gardens of houses should not extend to within ten metres of any
such site. Great care should be taken with any development which takes
place within 250 metres of in-filled wastes. Where development is taking
place on or adjacent to a landfill site, the developer should take account
of the need for the assessment and monitoring of any risk to the
development posed by the site.




Accelerated stabilisation will affect the operational practice and

restoration programming rather than restoration design. This method is
promoted by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the
Regions (DETR) in WMP26B and involves the encouragement of rapid
degradation of the landfill through management of the waste, including
controlled irrigation and interim capping.
Effects on site engineering


The effects of accelerated stabilisation on engineering will include

more onerous management for acceptance of waste, and increased
production rates and strength of leachate and of gas.
Accelerated stabilisation is therefore likely to require inter alia changes
waste characteristics;
heat retention and insulation characteristics of the base, walls and
surface sealing and potential for air admission;
leachate (and possibly gas) recirculation, pH adjustment and heating;
leachate removal and treatment;
gas abstraction;
daily cover usage;
barriers and bunds;
materials specifications; and
filling methods - this is of most interest to rural practice surveyors
and is described below.

Filling methods

Increased rates of settlement, albeit for a shorter period, would be a

probable result of accelerated stabilisation. This may require initial filling
to a higher level than with present practice, and would require the
design of a cap, and leachate gas control systems, which can accommodate considerable vertical movement while still retaining the required
properties. Alternatively, a temporary cap could be provided to allow
periodic refilling to achieve final topographic levels.


Particular attention will need to be paid to surface water drainage

systems, leachate and gas management systems, and other aspects of
site infrastructure. The designer and operator will need to take account
of this when planning and constructing the site, and in the site,
restoration and post-closure management.


The landscape master plan should be prepared in consultation with the

owner/operator and the engineering design team, taking into account


the requirements of the planning authority and other relevant consultees.

The design team as a whole should consider what specific provisions
will be necessary to accommodate the landscape and afteruse proposals
without compromising the performance of the engineering cap, and
should consider the overall profile of the capping system required.
WMP26E deals specifically with the restoration layers of the final cap,
including the handling and placing of the soil layers and the requirements for vegetation establishment. The depth of the soil cover will be
site-specific, consistent with the planned afteruse and the presence of
environmental control systems.

The landfill designer, landscape architect and restoration specialists

should ensure that the landscape proposals and the landfill requirements are compatible, for example:

the size and the layout of phases should be organised where

possible to reflect existing or proposed land use patterns,
enabling field boundaries to be established as part of a phased
restoration scheme;


adequate storage areas for on-site or imported soils should be

planned within the site boundary to allow separate handling,
storage and maintenance of soil quality in respect of landscape
and restoration materials;


the use of many and varied soil types in one restoration phase
should be avoided;


the layout of pipework and environmental monitoring points

should be designed to enable the use and maintenance of the
planned landscape to take place with minimal disruption; and


access routes, provided for monitoring and maintenance of the

landfill gas and leachate management systems, should be
planned to avoid compromising the planned afteruse.

Being a relatively new technique, accelerated stabilisation is not proven.

Therefore no experience exists on which to make or base judgements.
The theory is sound: however, it can only be considered as experimental
until site practice proves otherwise.





Within the limits of current knowledge, completion may be recognised

only by showing that the landfill has stabilised according to the criteria
set. It is not yet possible to predict the point in time when the relevant
criteria will have been met for any given site, or the interval over which
a site will become stable, although monitoring data can show that this
stage is being approached or has been reached. WMP4 recommends
that regular reports compiled by the operator comprising a review of
monitoring data and its interpretation should form the basis both of
routine meetings between the operator and the EA and of the application
to surrender the licence.


Routine monitoring therefore informs the site operator and the EA of the
current state of the site and its progress towards completion. Where a
complete record of monitoring is available this should provide all the
information needed for the application to surrender a licence.


Evidence should be provided that the information is sufficiently reliable

and comprehensive. Where sites are operated under quality assured
systems, a considerable part of the necessary evidence should have
been generated and should ensure confidence in the reliability of the
data. Otherwise the EA should require the operator to request verification
of the data obtained, which may include details of the laboratories used
and the appropriate analytical methods employed. The laboratories
themselves may operate under quality assured procedures or be
accredited. All such supporting information should assist the EA in
determining the quality of the data provided.


The design of the site monitoring schemes should be carefully thought

out. The operator and the EA will tend to rely more on sampling and
analytical procedures which have been subject to quality assured/quality
controlled schemes. General guidance on this is given in WMP4 and
more detailed guidance on landfill monitoring will be issued in a revision
of WMP26E.


The 1990 EPA sets out a condition for deciding whether or not a landfill
site may receive a certificate of completion. This is that the authority
must be satisfied that the condition of the land is unlikely to cause
pollution of the environment or harm to human health. This condition is
referred to here as the completion condition. The most important way
in which a landfill might cause pollution or harm to human health is by
the release of pollutants in gas or leachate. WMP4 deals mainly with
the risk of harmful quantities of such pollutants being released into the
environment, it also considers the physical stability of the site, and the
possibility that dangerous wastes might be present.




The aim in restoration and afteruse terms is to ensure that land will
meet the criteria set out at the beginning of the project assuming time
and satisfactory inputs.


There are some particular considerations in connection with landfill

design which may have an influence on agricultural afteruse.
Waste management


Historically, the UKs waste strategy has been towards landfill - 85% of
controlled waste has been deposited in this manner. The UKs sustainable development strategy requires that each generation should deal
with its own waste and not pass the problem on to future generations.
The present strategy is towards re-use, recovery and disposal; however,
the scale of current practice suggests that landfill will remain the major
approach for some time.


The National Rivers Authority document Policy and Practice for the
Protection of Groundwater has been instrumental in bringing about a
sea-change in modern waste practice. It gives the following as examples
of the time required to stabilise the landfill with different methods:
The table overleaf gives a clear indication of the timescales of landfill
and the basis for the preferred hierarchy. It is necessary to put these
timescales in perspective with afteruse and aftercare.





Time to stabilise

Containment dry tombing

300500 years

Attenuation dilute and disperse

50300 years

Accelerated stabilisation

3050 years

Landfill gas management


There is a range of designs of landfill gas wellheads. The simplest

structures involve capping large diameter plastic pipes with manhole
covers flush with the ground. Other structures involve 30-40 cm high
plastic boxes which occupy about 0.5 m2, whilst the largest involve a
1-2 m2 post and rail enclosure containing gas pipes which protrude 1-2 m
above the ground.


The effect of obstructions such as wellheads on agricultural afteruse

is a difficult area. It will depend upon the necessary cultivation and
agricultural operations, and the number, pattern and design of the
obstacle and field pattern. Wellheads, like parkland trees or pylons
widely spaced, are unlikely to create a serious obstruction to cultivation
and can be overcome. However, if, for example, a 40 m grid is installed
to a loose specification, then the resultant obstacle course could be a
serious impedance to arable cropping, and may also limit grass cropping.


The spacing of wellheads also varies based on a number of engineering

factors, but as a guide, is 40-60 m in a normal layout pattern. The
concern here is the pattern of the grid which is unlikely to be regular.
Closer spacing is common for passively vented wells and for perimeter
wells 5-50 m in diameter.


Operators differ in their views as to the life of gas wells. Some consider
that wells will not need to be replaced, others feel that any permeable
lining around the well pipe is likely to clog if the permeable material is
too fine. WMP26B states that wells with an internal diameter of less
than 150 mm can become unserviceable and need replacing in three to
four years. Where a well has to be replaced, redrilling in the same
location may appear to be technically unfeasible, expensive or counterproductive.


On some sites wells are built up progressively and, on others, drilled

after capping or soiling. The well is sealed in the cap and some method
(such as a telescopic fitting) used to allow the wellhead to settle with
the cap. The distribution pipes need to be laid to a fall to allow the
condensate to flow into a condensate trap or back to the well. A fall of
1:20 is suggested as a minimum for these pipes.


Agricultural problems may be encountered:



the design of the wellhead is a hidden obstruction to agricultural

the distribution of wellheads presents a series of obstacles in
practical terms, and curtails the range of agricultural operations
that are possible; and


the distribution system is at such a height in the soil profile that it

impedes or precludes agricultural drainage.


Some sites bring gas to a manifold which houses individual controls for
each well, enabling sampling and adjustments to be made. This arrangement allows the restored area to be obstacle-free in the short term.


On modern sites it may be possible to agree that landfill wells be

connected to a manifold where there is efficient base engineering to
collect and control leachate. On older consented areas, where leachate
is managed less easily, this is not a practical option.


It is not necessary to place wellheads in the same vertical plane as the

well. However, it is possible to offset and take piping in the agreed
distribution zone to the wellhead location. If the landfill gas system is
below the cap there is generally no conflict with agricultural requirements.


Leachate is formed by a combination of infiltration of rainfall during and

after waste infilling, moisture within the waste and the acidic products of
decomposition. If allowed to build up, the head of leachate on the bottom
of the landfill will inhibit the degradation process of the submerged
waste, and also increase potential for leakage through the base. Site
licence requirements usually limit the permitted head of leachate to one
metre above the base of the site.


Landfill engineering practice usually splits each site into cells. Cell size
is based on water balance calculations aimed at limiting the quantity of
rainfall in each cell. Modern cells are engineered with basal slopes of
between 1:40 and 1:100. In containment sites base liners are highly
engineered often with multi-liner systems and a drainage blanket with
drainage pipes, which all allow leachate to drain to the low engineered
point. A leachate monitoring well, sited at the engineered low point, is
usually constructed progressively as infilling continues.


The lower points may be drained into an arterial leachate drainage

system, taking the leachate to one or more points at the side of the site.
The system may be connected to rodding chambers at the surface to
allow jetting. WMP26A provides guidance on the number of leachate
sampling points in each cell (two minimum). Cell size varies between
two and five hectares. Where a well is built progressively it often gets
knocked and pushed out of alignment, hence affecting the position on
the surface.


On older sites the base is unlikely to have been engineered to modern

high standards and leachate control is more difficult. The combination
of day-cover - preventing even percolation through the fill - and the lack
of a drainage blanket or engineered slopes hinders the lateral movement of leachate. Pumping to control leachate levels may be required at
several locations. On some sites the wells may be dual-purpose gas and
leachate. Pumping may be by a submersible pump or eductor. Pumps
require an electrical supply with a control system. An eductor requires
three pipes: one for leachate being pumped into the well, one for
leachate being pumped out and the third for gas.


Where treatment beds and/or lagoons are to be considered, the location

of the structures in relation to field boundaries should be assessed and
planned at an early stage. Tracking routes for monitoring, pumping and


removal of leachate off-site should be agreed and construction criteria

Compaction and settlement

The amount of settlement depends on the proportion of degradable

material in the fill, and the depth of the tipped fill.


The actual methodology of waste placement and compaction is usually

considered an operational matter that does not require licensing
conditions. However, poor site management can result in differential
settlement, which may jeopardise the afteruse. The consensus appears
to be that pre- and post-settlement contours are a matter for planning,
not working practice. However, as the operational practice has a major
effect on contour, this point does need consideration.


WMP4 requires that there should be topographical information with the

licence application and makes it clear that conditions covering topography
should be applied. The paper also requires that monitoring includes a
record of levelling and deformation surveys. WMP26A requires similar
information for completion monitoring and specifies the number of
survey points. As this provides the EA with the statistics to verify settlement rates, it seems reasonable to suggest that the EA has a duty of
care to comment where settlement rate information is lacking or seems


WMP26B discusses settlement and gradients and gives some general

guidance as follows:
most settlement should occur in the first 30 years, with the majority in
the first five years; and
there should be gradients of max 1:4 and min 1:25 (settled) to
ensure adequate drainage and minimise ponding.


Differential settlement can cause disruption to agricultural drainage

systems. This is particularly marked where there are engineering
differences (for example roads, cell walls, edges and accelerated
settlement around wells).


PPG23 tries to address the problem of differentiating between those

matters which can be controlled by planning conditions and those which
should be controlled by waste management licence. While planning
conditions are mainly concerned with land use matters there are
operational points which directly affect the afteruse. These can be
summarised as follows:




Site Practice

Influence on the afteruse

Waste placement and compaction

1. Surface becomes too uneven

for mechanical cultivation
2. Ponding occurs in hollows

Settlement centred on wells

Localised accelerated movement

Control equipment and rate of pumping

Number of inspections required

to monitor and control equipment


When working with minerals it is recognised that aftercare commences

when the restoration condition is complied with. In practice, this occurs
when the topsoils have been spread to the satisfaction of the Mineral
Planning Authority. However, when working with waste there is a difficulty
with this as following soiling there is a period of five years when postclosure engineering is at its busiest. Consideration should therefore be
given to postponing aftercare, promoting an interim restoration or making
specific provision for repair of damage and remedial works outside the
planning framework. It is important that this issue is addressed early on
to ensure that agricultural practice and future land use is not unduly


Any mineral working or waste disposal operation offers opportunities to

consider afteruse and plan the restored landscape. The afteruse is
influenced by many factors, however, often outside the direct control of
the site. Nevertheless, sites should be considered as an opportunity and
all steps taken to influence the required outcome. It is never too early to
plan the afteruse as steps taken in the site design and working can, as
described, greatly influence land-use in the long term.



EA Regulations


Environment Agency
Environmental Assessment Regulations
Environmental Protection Act 1990
Landfill Gas
Local Planning Authority
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Minerals Planning Guidance Note 7
Planning Policy Guidance Note 23
Waste Management Paper 4 (1994)
Waste Management Paper 26A (1994)
Waste Management Paper 26B (1995)
Waste Management Paper 26E (in draft 1996)
Waste Management Paper 27 (1989)


Sell or lease
Long lease

What indemnity will be retained in the longer term? Will risk

liability be accepted by the waste company after they leave the
What is the solvency of the operator, what will happen to the site
and what are the risks in the case of insolvency?
Is insurance available for risks, and who will pay any premiums?


Beware any retained liability.

Advantages in linking with mineral operation rather than selling
for one or the other.
What are the implications if the scheme does not progress as
planned? No control over the working and afteruse.

Consider values within curtilage of landfill sites.
What is the effect on values of the long-term use of a site as a
Lease or sale considerations - how will each be affected?
Consider measures to protect properties at an early stage bunding, direction and method of working.
Position of gas flare and impact on properties.
Tenants and Tenancies of Landfill Sites
Obtain all the information prior to advising to take restored land
that has been landfilled. Limitations as to use or farming practice
will be particularly relevant.
Restoration standards crucial to future potential of land.
Worth taking land on a short-term basis to assess potential and
any inherent problems.
Farming Practice
What limitations are placed on the site by the aftercare scheme?
Restoration methods and the presence of gas/leachate
infrastructure can constrain farming.
Obtain full details of site requirements for monitoring, access and
leachate disposal.
Check position with regard to Integrated Administration Control
Scheme and requirements for forage areas (may need grazing
where stock may not be allowed).


Other Items



Require detailed consultation as to reinstatement and use.

Determine insurance requirement to cover any liability resulting
from previous use.

Tree planting

Possible on landfill sites (see the DETRs publication The

Potential for Woodland Establishment on Landfill Sites) but
ensure that correct species and area for planting are chosen.
Check planning permission for requirements.


Consider potential uses but balance against limitations of site

and long-term site constraints.


Long-term access requirement necessary for leachate and gas

monitoring. Determine liability for access post restoration.

Certificate of

Liability retained by operator or, by default, the landowner unless

licence accepted back by the EA. If handed back, check in detail
any conditions or outstanding concerns. Always request sight of
certificate if available.



Certificate of Completion:
what does it say?
what are the limitations it imposes?


Who is the licence holder? Is this person still on site or in the locality?


What are the requirements for monitoring. As set out in the licence and
planning permission?


Do the planning permission and licence require the same site



Who is responsible for liabilities as existing and in default?


What are the benefits and potential liabilities for sale or lease?


What are the implications for valuation? Is the valuation covered by the
Red Book (contaminated land) and P.I. insurance?


What is the long-term potential for the site? Has it any potential?


When selling land that has been filled, has full information been given
and obtained?


Have risks and liabilities been inherited when buying filled land from the


Are there advantages in setting up environmental areas/bodies through

the provisions of landfill tax?



Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1990
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1988 SI. 1988 (No.
1657) as amended
Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
Health and Safety at Work etc. Order (Northern Ireland) 1978
Planning & Compensation Act 1991
Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations (Northern Ireland)
1989 SRO (No. 20)
Pollution Control And Local Government Order (Northern Ireland) 1978
Public Health Act (Scotland)1897
Public Health Act 1936
Public Health Acts (Ireland) 1878-1907
The Control Of Pollution Act 1974
The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 1988 SI. 1988 S.122 (No.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases And Dangerous Occurrences Regulations
1985 as amended
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases And Dangerous Occurrences Regulations
(Northern Ireland) 1986
The Town & Country Development Order 1973
The Town & Country Development Order 1988 SI. 1988 (No. 1813) as amended
Town & Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations
1988 SI 1988 (No. 1199)
Town & Country Planning Act (Scotland) 1972
Town & Country Planning Act 1990
Town & Country Planning Order 1991


Environmental Protection Act 1990, HMSO
Minerals Planning Guidance Note 7 - The Reclamation of Mineral Workings,
HMSO, 1989
Planning Policy Guidance Note 23 - Planning and Pollution Control, HMSO, 1994
Policy and Practice for the Protection of Groundwater, National Rivers Authority,
1992 (ISBN: 1 873160 37 2)
The Potential for Woodland Establishment on Landfill Sites, Department of the
Environment, Transport and the Regions, 1993
Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations
1988, HMSO
Town and Country Planning Act 1990, HMSO
Town and Country Planning Compensation Act 1990, HMSO
Waste Management Papers, Department of the Environment:
4: Licensing of Waste Management Facilities, HMSO, 1994
26A: Landfill Completion, HMSO, 1994
26B: Landfill Design, Construction and Operational Practice, HMSO, 1995
26E: Landfill Restoration and Post-Closure Management, HMSO (in draft 1996)
27: Landfill Gas, HMSO, 1989


Waste Management
A Guide to Landfill

Waste management is becoming an increasingly complex topic for the surveyor, and
as legislation and site practice continually change there are both short and long-term
implications for site negotiation and management. This new title provides rural practice
and other surveyors with the guidance they need to deal with the various aspects of waste
management concerning landfill, and raises a number of wider issues in the process.
This Guidance Note focuses on the various discrete stages involved in the landfill process.
From initiation, usually through the granting of planning permission and a subsequent waste
management licence, to monitoring, stabilisation, competition, and finally aftercare and
afteruse, the Note offers a guide to the right approach for the surveyor to adopt. Relevant
legislation is referred to throughout and, while the authors are careful to avoid becoming
too technical, there is a separate chapter which covers the legal aspects of landfill in detail.
The authors also believe that it is essential to consider the parameters of afteruse and
restoration at the planning stage, and therefore they include a comprehensive section on
the agricultural considerations of landfill. This covers waste management, landfill gas
wellheads and leachate among other topics.
Waste Management: A Guide to Landfill includes in its appendices a list of practical points
and essential questions, a guide to abbreviations, legal references and a useful bibliography.
It provides not only essential guidance, but will also be useful as an aide-mmoire,
information source and a starting point for locating further resources.