Sustainability assessment framework and indicators developed by SuRF-UK for land remediation option appraisal
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The scale of land-contamination problems, and of the responses to them, makes achieving sustainability in contaminated land remediation an important objective. The Sustainable Remediation Forum in the UK (SuRF-UK) was established in 2007 to support more sustainable remediation practices in the UK. The prevailing international consensus is that risk assessment is the most rational approach for determining remediation needs and urgency. Sustainability in this context is related to the effective delivery of whatever risk management is necessary to protect human health or the wider environment. SuRF-UK suggests that decisions made at the project planning stage, and also in the choice of remediation approach used to reach particular objectives decided upon, are both opportunities for sustainability gain. In 2011, SuRF-UK issued a set of wide-ranging indicators to support sustainability assessments made during project planning and remediation option appraisal. This advice was reviewed over 2018–2020 and new guidance on process and indicators has been released. Within this guidance, SuRF-UK has provided a checklist of possible sustainability indicators/criteria that can be used to benchmark the scope of sustainability assessment for remediation projects. These indicators are divided into 15 overarching (“headline”) categories, divided in a balanced way across the three elements of sustainability: Environmental (emissions to air, soil and ground conditions, groundwater and surface water, ecology, and natural resources and waste); social (human health and safety, ethics and equity, neighborhoods and locality, communities and community involvement, and uncertainty and evidence); and economic (direct economic costs and benefits, indirect economic costs and benefits, employment and employment capital, induced economic costs and benefits, and project lifespan and flexibility). The majority of this study explains these categories and their various considerations in more depth and provides the supporting rationale that led to their inclusion in the revised SuRF-UK guidance.