EGU23-7840, updated on 25 Feb 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Building on soil sustainability: Principles for soils in planning and construction

Jess Davies1, John Quinton1, Roisin O'Riordan1, Paul Hatch2, Susanna Dart2, Adam Birchall3, Birgit Hontzsch3, Charles Campion4, and Noel Farrer5
Jess Davies et al.
  • 1Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom (
  • 2Lancaster City Council, Lancaster, United Kingdom
  • 3Cornwall Council, Cornwall, United Kingdom
  • 4JTP MasterPlanners, London, United Kingdom
  • 5Farrer Huxley, London, United Kingdom

Soils are routinely undervalued, damaged and disposed of during construction and urban development. It is crucial that we not only stem the damage done to these vital ecosystems, but also actively consider how better planning and management of soil can result in environmentally and socially beneficial development. However, this is a significant policy and practice challenge. For example, currently in the United Kingdom, soils on construction sites fall within a gap in policy and legislation and government department remits. Large amounts of soil are being lost and damaged as a result. In 2018, 29.5 million tonnes of soil from construction sites were disposed of in landfill in the UK. Only 0.6 % of this was hazardous, which means a huge amount of this vital resource is being lost during construction. 

In this contribution, we will share evidence on the impacts of construction on soils and present a new set of guiding principles to help improve how soils and their multifunctionality are planned for and managed during construction and urban development. These principles were co-developed by a team spanning academia, local policymakers, master planners and landscape architects, and were formed in consultation with key policy and industry representatives. We will share insights generated through this process and reflect on what’s needed next for securing soil sustainability in planning and construction.

How to cite: Davies, J., Quinton, J., O'Riordan, R., Hatch, P., Dart, S., Birchall, A., Hontzsch, B., Campion, C., and Farrer, N.: Building on soil sustainability: Principles for soils in planning and construction, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-7840,, 2023.