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Background: UK-China Partnership on Soil Remediation

China’s fast urbanisation, along with huge expansion of its manufacturing industry over the last three decades, have brought great wealth and transformed the lives of Chinese people. As cities continue to expand, many older industrial facilities along the edge of, or within, the city boundaries are being relocated or closed, leaving behind derelict, underused and abandoned land contaminated by the former industrial activities. These sites can be valuable land for re-development, but require special intervention to bring them back into beneficial use. At the same time, the continuous outward shift of urban boundaries and the expansion of territorial jurisdictions of cities, primarily through the expropriation of surrounding rural land and its integration into urban areas, means that land use patterns have changed significantly over the last few decades. These prevailing land use changes are reflected in three key environmental issues that need to be addressed:

  1. the rehabilitation of contaminated post-industrial urban sites that may be re-used for housing or amenity;
  2. the clearing up of legacy mining and industrial sites outside cities, to prevent further contamination and/or to return to ecological or agricultural function;
  3. the decontamination of farmland that is affected by legacy contamination, from the uncontrolled spreading of industrial waste, use of contaminated water for irrigation, atmospheric deposition or dumping of contaminated soils from urban or industrial areas.

Re-zoning to relocate industrial facilities away from residential areas, to segregate manufacturing from where people live, and the reuse of redundant sites for residential, retail and commercial land uses means that China is a strong market for services in contaminated land characterisation, assessment and remediation.

There are a number of specific opportunities for UK and China to work together as China is developing its soil protection law, soil protection standards and financial models for future     comprehensive and systematic planning for sustainable risk based land management, encompassing both contaminated soil and groundwater and recycling and reuse of soil. Therefore a shared endeavour is needed to promote the development of technically and scientifically sound land management and soil protection to improve the sustainability of the rapid urbanisation in China.



  1. Joint efforts for scientific research and comprehensive risk assessment systems and structures to support risk management decision making
  2. Dialogues informing the construction of overarching frameworks for innovative and sustainable remediation in China
  3. Promote sound site investigation and consequent risk assessment systems to support conceptual modelling and risk evaluation
  4. Exchange for better understanding of the contaminated land market, different regulatory frameworks, and IP risks to support UK and Chinese research organisation/ companies to realise their ambitions in China.
  5. Establish and facilitate mutual learning and understanding on contaminated land management issues between China and the UK.


  1. Exploiting UK experience on policy frameworks (i.e planning policy for brownfield), regulatory concepts (such as the “Model Procedures”) and cross-sectorial stakeholders mechanisms (such as CL:AIRE and SuRF-UK)
  2. Sharing experience of evaluation and practical deployment of remediation technologies in China, through the establishment of an independent, non-profit organisation.
  3. Creating a constructive broad-based partnership that involves civil society, regulators, the scientific community and business interests
  4. Evaluating and adapting innovative set of methodologies for integrating sustainable remediation with urban planning and public realm design
  5. Supporting the development of low input strategies for land management, sustainable remediation and community enterprise for brownfields and marginal land areas with a focus on renewable energy and carbon sequestration
  6. Building upon existing work to create a progressive alliance and improve alignment on contaminated land management and sustainable development related issues in international fora with a view to attain policy and practice convergence and joint action

Key Deliverables

  • Informing China’s policy framing on contaminated land management
  • Establishing UK-Sino demonstration centres to create business opportunities between UK and China
  • Engaging public and professional audience in China and UK for joint scientific research and development, policy, and technology
  • Developing guidance and strategies for renewable energy application and wider project services such as among others, carbon management, biomass, biochar application and bioenergy recovery
  • Developing decision support tools that map the key factors and services that need to be taken into account for integrating sustainable remediation within urban planning and public realm design
  • Training to raise awareness and ensure long term impacts


Lead organisation:

UK core partners:

  • Atkins, Water Ground and Environment
  • ARUP
  • British Geological Survey
  • CL:AIRE (Contaminated land: Applications in Real Environments)
  • Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
  • Environment Agency
  • Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)
  • RAW, Randall and Walsh Associated Limited
  • University of Brighton
  • University of Nottingham

China core partners:

  • Atkins China, Water and Environment
  • CEES CECDADI (China Energy Conservation DADI Environmental Remediation Co. ltd)
  • Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning (CAEP)
  • Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES)
  • Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR, CAS)
  • Institute of Soil Science Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISSAS)
  • Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IUE, CAS)
  • Research Centre for Eco-environmental Sciences (RCEES, CAS)
  • South University of Science and Technology of China (SUSTC)
  • Tsinghua University

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