The state of play in the contaminated land treatment market has been examined by Market & Business Development, which has published a report – UK contaminated land treatment market development – looking at the key drivers as well as future forecasts.

The study found that demand for contaminated land assessment and treatment increased during each year between 2001 and 2005, with annual growth levels peaking at 8% in 2004. In 2005, the value of the market reached an estimated £1003.5M, representing a 6% increase in the year, and overall strong growth of 24% compared with the beginning of the review period.

Market growth is thought to have been boosted by the buoyant construction market and government policy which increased the emphasis of planning permission to be based on the redevelopment of brownfield sites. The trend towards waterside residential and commercial developments on land formerly utilised for industrial activity has also generated demand for contaminated land treatment.

Moderate growth levels expected

Looking ahead, the market is projected to increase during 2006 to 2010, although annual growth levels are expected to be more moderate at between 3% and 5%. The value of the market is also anticipated to increase each year between 2005 and 2010, culminating in overall real term growth of 21%.

Short-term demand should increase, reflecting the continued buoyancy of the construction market. The market may be boosted by legislative factors which are likely to increase the number of contaminated land clean-up projects, and by government policy concerning brownfield site developments.

The excavation and removal sector is forecast to continue to represent the largest sector of the treatment market, although market share is expected to decline from 76% in 2005 to 74% in 2010. This reflects increasing landfill costs and a reduction in the number of ‘special waste’ sites.

Nonetheless, the speed and cost-effective features of the technique will help sustain market position. Demand for excavation and removal techniques is expected to increase throughout the review period, reaching a projected £546.3M in 2010 – equivalent to 16% real term growth compared with 2005.

The market for other physical remediation techniques is also anticipated to increase year-on-year between 2005 and 2010, culminating in overall real term growth of 37%. Furthermore, the proportional importance of the sector is expected to increase moderately from 7% to 8% during the same period, partially reflecting increasing demand for lower cost treatment techniques such as soil washing.

Much of the forecast development of the containment market depends upon the ability of contractors to promote this as an environmentally responsible remediation technique. However, as landfill prices are rising, containment typically offers the next lowest cost solution for contaminated land remediation.

The sector is therefore likely to gain from further cost increases in the excavation and removal sector. Indeed, the value of the containment market is projected to increase from £36.7M in 2005 to £46.5M in 2010.

Bioremediation looks healthy

Demand for bioremediation is projected to increase during each year of the forecast period, with annual levels of growth peaking at 10% in 2006. The value of the sector is expected to reach £46.3M in 2010, equivalent to a real term increase of 37% compared with 2005.

The proportional importance of the sector is expected to increase moderately from 5% to 6%. However, this assumes that owners of contaminated land will increasingly facilitate such a technique that typically is not conducive to time constraints imposed by contractors when developing land.

The potential for market growth in biological treatment lies in sites where time pressures to develop on the land is not urgent. If the market continues to be closely allied to construction activity, the development of this sector can be expected to be significantly lower.

The chemical treatment sector is expected increase during much of the forecast period, with the exception of a marginal decline in 2008. Demand for chemical treatment is projected to increase by 22% in real terms between 2005 and 2010. The market for solidification is projected to increase from £7.1M in 2005 to £8.5M at 2005 prices in 2010.

Thermal treatment is anticipated to remain the smallest sector of the total market, accounting for just a marginal share throughout the forecast period. The value of the sector is projected to decline by 20% in real terms between 2005 and 2010. However, the rate of decline is likely to be dependent upon the success of recent projects and the relative cost of thermal treatment compared with other remediation techniques.

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