Task 4-6: Site suitability procedures (forestry & land restoration)
August 2008

Project partners: SNIFFER, SEPA, NIEA, Scottish Government, Forestry Commission, Health Protection Scotland

Use of the reports
The technical documents have been developed through a collaborative project, managed and facilitated by SNIFFER and has involved the members and partners. They provide background information, within the confines of the project brief, to support and inform member organisations and others.
Whilst the documents are considered to represent the best available scientific information and expert opinion available to the consultant at the stage of completion of the report, within the confines of the specification given, they do not represent the final or policy positions of SNIFFER or any of its partner agencies, and they recognise that the historic practices regarding sewage sludge recycling  discussed are not current practice within the UK.

Background to research

Although there is a great deal of research and scientific data on sewage sludge application to land, much of this relates to modest application rates on agricultural land.  In recent years there has been a substantial increase in the amount applied to forestry, and to former opencast coal sites in the UK for purposes of land restoration.  Application rates of sewage sludge have been considerably higher than traditionally practiced, and sludge has been applied using different techniques.  There is concern that poorly managed practices could result in risks to human health, water, air and soil quality and to biodiversity.  Public and political interest is high and this project will address the urgent need to review this activity and develop decision support systems and guidelines to ensure that the activities will not affect public health or adversely affect the environment.

Objectives of research

In detail, the project aims to:
The objective of these reports is to fulfil the third aim in relation to the environmental, ecological and human health effects of spreading sewage sludge on forestry & land restoration.  Separate reports have been published by SNIFFER covering the first two aims and the site suitability and risk assessment procedure for sludge use for land reclamation (Tasks 1 to 3).

Key findings and recommendations

A two stage system has been developed. The first comprises a site suitability classification that identifies land that is suitable or unsuitable for sewage sludge application based on a standard set of criteria. This stage has been divided into two tiers based on the level of information required to facilitate decision making. The second stage comprises a series of recommendations and procedures relating to sludge application method, rate and timing, that seek to ensure that the benefits of the sludge are optimized and that environmental quality and human health are not compromised.

Key words: sewage sludge, environment, forestry, land restoration water, soil, human health

Copies of these reports are available from the Foundation:
Site suitability procedure (forestry) in electronic format on CDRom at 20.00 + VAT or hard copy at 15.00 less 20% to FWR members.
Site suitability procedure (land restoration) in electronic format on CDRom at 20.00 + VAT or hard copy at 15.00 less 20% to FWR members.

N.B. The reports are available for download from the SNIFFER Website 

All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of SNIFFER.