Construction activities can have severely adverse impacts on soil including soil compaction, reduced drainage capacity, contamination with potentially phytotoxic materials, reduction or loss of soil biota and general loss of soil structure often leading to soil erosion.
There seems to be a low level of awareness of the long-term adverse impacts that poor soil management can have on a site and of the wider environmental implications.
It also seems to be low on the government’s agenda. In October 2020, the English government published the Planning for the Future (PFTF) White Paper which proposes reforms to the planning system to streamline and modernise the planning process - but made no mention of soil, despite the fact that PFTF policy objectives cannot be achieved without understanding the implications of soil degradation, soil protection, the importance of soil health and the need for planning policy to address soil recovery and sustainable use.
The Sustainable Soils Alliance has created the ‘Sustainable Urban Soils Health Initiative’ working group (SUSHI), made up of soil scientists, arboriculturists, landscape architects and local government officers who work in the construction, land development and land management sector.
SUSHI aims to develop and promote an up-to-date code of practice for the sustainable use of soils on construction sites and to engage planners, designers and the development industry to become more aware of the many benefits of appropriate and considered soil management.