SNIFFER (Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research)


Organic matter provides stability and structure, nutrients, organic carbon and other trace elements to soil. If it is not replaced the organic matter content of the soil will decrease and soil quality will deteriorate. Organic matter can be recycled to land through a variety materials derived from waste feedstocks, such as sewage sludge, paper crumble, composts, compost-like outputs and anaerobic digestate. These materials may be applied to degraded land as part of a reclamation project to improve the soil and re-establish vegetation for a range of onward end uses such as biomass cultivation, public open space and recreational ground. However, poor management can potentially lead to environmental damage to water, air and soil, making it important to follow good practice to avoid negative images of land reclamation in the mind of the public. Most of the available good practice guidance applies to agricultural land and one or two organic materials in each case; although some information relates to land reclamation, this is now over ten years old and only applies to sewage sludge. Thus there is a need to update and revise the available guidance on good practice for using organic materials in land reclamation to account for more recent legislation, the wider range of organic materials used and greater experience in their use.


The overall aim of the work is to produce concise, easy to understand practical guidance in the form of a Code of Practice on the use of relevant waste-derived organic amendments in land reclamation. This would be aimed at relevant stakeholders in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but would also be of value to equivalent stakeholders in other parts of the UK and potentially elsewhere in Europe. The Code should fulfil several design criteria.


A preliminary reference list of available information was compiled and the subsequent background research into the available codes of practice and relevant scientific research was summarised in a literature review. The review was structured in a similar form to the planned Code of Practice to allow easy transfer of relevant information once the Code itself was prepared. At the same time interviews with key stakeholders were held to gauge their views on the format and content of the final document and help to structure the outputs.


A draft version of the Code was prepared along with an accompanying Technical Document, which provided supporting scientific evidence to justify the recommendations and guidance within the code itself. Both of these documents were based on the literature review, the views of stakeholders and the advice of the project Technical Advisory Group (TAG), made up of representatives from SEPA, Scottish Water, NIEA, the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and WRAP. The draft code was sent out for open public consultation and is currently being amended before being published in its final version at a launch event in Edinburgh in March 2010.

The Code of Practice will be available in hard copy or as an electronic download, The Technical Document is available as an electronic download only. Both will available from the SNIFFER website after the launch event in March.



Start and completion dates

July 2009 – March 2010

wca project co-ordinator

Tony Chapman