Ground level training

In direct response to the new challenges created by the contaminated land regime in the UK and the need for highly trained engineers and science-based professionals, Cranfield University at Silsoe has created a new MSc programme: Land Reclamation and Restoration, due to start in October.

The course will develop the necessary knowledge and skills to implement management strategies in response to the drive for the restoration, reclamation and remediation of land.

At a recent conference, Professor Peter Leeds-Harrison, of the National Soil Resources Institute at Silsoe, emphasised the point that more than 300,000 hectares of land in the UK alone is contaminated. “This is a problem repeated across the whole of Europe”, he says. “In Eastern Europe industrially damaged land represents a major concern for governments and industry seeking to meet higher European environmental standards, which include making the land safe and restoring fully-functioning ecosystems. These standards are expected to become ever more pressing with the adoption and wider implementation of legislative drivers such as the Water Framework Directive.”

The progressive deterioration of land and the consequences of decreased sustainability is a global concern. Cranfield advocates that land reclamation and restoration is the principle tool with which to address the challenges presented by changing land use and the legislative drivers underpinning them.

Platform for growth

Professor Leeds-Harrison further states: “In the UK much emphasis has been placed on making contaminated land safe, often with the sole objective of creating a platform for building growth. Developers are increasingly aware that the setting and context of urban housing requires attention to open space within the development area. Here land must be restored to ecological function suitable for amenity and leisure and / or conservation.” He goes on to say: “To do this requires careful soil and water engineering backed by a sound understanding of ecology. Developed land that is enhanced in this way is now showing higher end value and provides a real incentive for ecological engineering investment.”

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