Compost as catalyst?

 

Compost is not only for domestic and agricultural use. WRAP’s Landscape and Regeneration programme has been applying compost with recycled materials to makeover brownfield land for the last few years.

The organisation’s ‘trailblazers’ have set a standard and provide an example of best practice in this area. But what are they, and how can local authorities benefit from such a scheme?

Paul Mathers, Programme Manager of Landscape and Regeneration at WRAP, explained: “Over the last few years we worked with a number of universities and did a large amount of research with case studies using compost. We had to build a body of evidence to local authorities that compost was fit for purpose.”

One such trailblazer project of compost usage was for Sunderland City Council on a heavily contaminated site: the former Lambton Cokeworks in County Durham. PAS 100 Compost was used on the land - which forms part of the National Coalfields Regeneration Programme. The project involved initial soil remediation of the existing topsoil and decontamination of the site.

As the developers wanted to avoid the costly import of topsoil and export of contaminated materials, as well as addressing the shortage of available soil reserves, compost made from recycled green waste was specified.

Mathers said: “Waste from the paper industry was used in the compost. It’s about local authorities recycling their material as compost.”

Dr Robin Davies, soil scientist for the project, explained: “Green waste compost was the best form of organic matter to manufacture soil with. It is best physically and in relation to plant nutrients - especially for indigenous woodland, which makes up a large proportion of the site.”

Imported paper mill crumb and colliery shale used for soil underwent tests to make sure it complied with the Contaminated Land Regulations 2000, and could be mixed with green waste compost to form a suitable subsoil.

Mathers explained the application of compost: “A light touch compost was trialled. There was a lot of local species and biodiversity in the area and they wanted to encourage this.

“The approach worked; it encouraged biodiversity without using grass. Ecological concerns were managed successfully.”

Mathers was also keen to point out the financial benefits of the scheme: “They saved about £1.2 million - cutting back on the costs of fertilisers and pesticides.”

So why aren’t more local authorities taking advantage of WRAP’s service? “It’s the unknown,” Mathers continued, “once they have the evidence, they give it a try.”

The cost savings doesn’t mean that quality is compromised though: “We push the quality of the compost. We need to meet local authorities to show how, and why, it works,” Mathers said.

Another project was undertaken by North Somerset Council, using compost mulch to reduce weed cover and enhance tree growth.

Mathers said: “We knew compost would suppress weeds - in trials it showed a 50 percent reduction. So now it has been rolled out.”

What about maintenance of newly regenerated sites? “There are short term and long term consequences.” Mathers said. “Compost, because of its nature, there are no weeds in the first two years. However over the next three years, there is some maintenance.”

And what of the future? “Increasingly,” Mathers said, “food waste will be collected. At the moment it is not sustainably recycled. There is a big push by Government though.

“We have done a number of studies, and it is the same again, have to demonstrate to local authorities how successfully it works.”

Summing up, and going forward, Mathers feels the results speak for themselves: “It’s early days yet but we are seeing results.

“2.7 million tonnes of waste collected in 2007- 08 was used as compost. Half went to agriculture, but the regeneration market is growing. When it comes to sustainability, all local authorities want to be sustainable.”
 

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Senior Engineer (Development Control)

Wrexham County Borough Council
£36,876 - £39,782 per annum
We are looking to appoint a suitably experienced and qualified candidate to work within the Contracts and Engineering team Wrexham (Wrecsam)
Recuriter: Wrexham County Borough Council

Strategic Director Growth and Regeneration

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Strategic Director Environment and Climate Change

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Funeral Operative (As and When)

Brent Council
£24,462 - £26,274 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
The person will not need previous experience in funeral services as full training will be given but experience would be an advantage. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Senior Engineer – Transport Policy

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£38,800 - £52,600
This is an exciting opportunity to improve road safety and create healthy streets in a busy and dynamic central London borough. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Environmental Health Officer / Health and Safety Practitioner

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£33,600 - £45,400 per annum plus performance related pay
The ideal candidate will have a detailed knowledge/understanding of Health and Safety legislation.  Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Head of Operations

Rossendale Borough Council
£49,408 - £52,899
The Head of Operations is a key leader in the Senior Management Team. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recuriter: Rossendale Borough Council

Commercial Officer

Rossendale Borough Council
£25,801 - £29,636
We are keen to improve our recycling levels, tackle the climate change agenda and take pride in our open spaces. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recuriter: Rossendale Borough Council

Principal Electrical Asset Officer

Birmingham City Council
£34,788-£42,683
The role requires the post holder to be a key technical specialist for the Authority’s Highways Electrical Asset Management function, providing... Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Transport Planning Officer 

Plymouth City Council
£32,878 - £42,683
This is a full time position (37 hours per week) with flexible working arrangements. Plymouth, Devon
Recuriter: Plymouth City Council

Highways & Drainage Team Manager

Newport City Council
£37,849 - £40,760
You will be skilled at analysing multiple sources of information, making excellent decisions, and driving difficult situations towards a... Newport (Casnewydd)
Recuriter: Newport City Council

Senior Environmental Health Officer (Housing Lead)

Mole Valley District Council
£37,821 - £42,329
An exciting opportunity for a Senior Environmental Health Officer to join our forward thinking Environmental Health Partnership Oxted, Surrey
Recuriter: Mole Valley District Council

Street Works Compliance Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
For further information on the role please click. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Sustainability & Resilience Officer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £34017 per annum
This opportunity is to be offered on a 6-month, fixed term / secondment contract basisInterviews scheduled to be held Friday 17th April Job Purpose Es England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Highway Electrical Maintenance & Installation Operative (Street Lighting) Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Civil Engineering Technician Apprentice x 3

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Safety, Health & Environment Technician Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Strategic Director, Environment & Regeneration

Brent Council
Circa £155,000
Brent is the Borough of Cultures - the most diverse in London - and as a Council we believe in delivering for our communities. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Street Cleansing Operative x6

Redbridge London Borough Council
£20,466.00 - £20,835.00
This role will involve working as an individual as well as part of a team, litter pick the streets in the local area, empty the litter bins. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Assistant Engineer - Grade 3

Northumberland County Council
£27,905 - £31,371
Assistant Engineer (Structures) - Band 7 (SCP 24-28) The Council Northumberland County Council operates a huge range of services across one of the ... County Hall, Morpeth
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council