Requirements for the soil chemical quality – soil group

by Grzegorz Piórczyński


Reading an article that was written by my friend from Trebbi Polska Adam Topolski published on our LinkedIn on 6th of April 2021 (link) reminded me of one question which has been asked by the Investors to me quite often lately:  “Testing soil contamination, which soil group should be selected, in accordance to the Ordinance of the Minister of the Environment dated 1st September 2016 on the contaminated land assessment methodology and in accordance to Master Plan, in force at that location?” Without a doubt, the most demanding.

But, slowing down, what we are talking about? When you are planning to buy a plot and invest a lot of money, it is always worth not to buy a pig in a poke (in polish, we say not to buy a cat in the bag). It has to be checked, inter alia, whether the soil contamination within the investment boundaries is at the permissible level. Under adverse conditions, the cost of remediation can be a relevant budget item. Basing on the soil group, a further method of operation and permissible soil contamination values are selected. But what if we have current use different than planned? Or Master plan predicts the same location use attributed to two different groups? What then? Are we available to choose the most efficient one for us, or we have to operate under the most demanding rules? As usual, for reasons of cost, as long as the regulations do not require it, Investors do not want to incur it, even if we have to fit into the most restrictive requirements. In this matter, the authorities are very precise. According to the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment mentioned above Master plan takes precedence over the symbols in the land register when determining the land groups (paragraph 3.4).

In the case of several possible site zoning designations (e.g. P / U, PUG), the Ministry of Environment guidelines (the information presented in the official presentation of the Ministry of Environment, page No. 19 in Polish only, link) require the application of the most restrictive requirements for the soil chemical quality. Thus, regardless of future development, the soil quality requirements for the most demanding standards will be applicable. In such a case in the P/U area, the investments including warehouse or production building would have to meet the most demanding requirements (set for services). Even though the guidelines have not been published as a separate legal act, the authorities are already following.

However, the investors still have options to optimise the investment costs in terms of contaminated land liability. Polish legislation provides a risk assessment approach, but this is a whole different story and maybe the next article.

The current legal approach to the contaminated land liability and the presentation was indicated, during one of our cooperations, by  Michal Golos, the Environmental Consultant at RSK Polska.