Site identification

Information on brownfield land can be obtained from a variety of sources, including:

Visual inspection

  • At a local level, there is no substitute for having a look: The experienced eye can readily identify brownfield land and perform a first-pass assessment of land quality and development potential simply by observation.
  • The context is also critical: Past and present uses of neighbouring land can have a significant impact and must be taken into account.
  • Visiting the area will often provide an opportunity to gain local knowledge.
  • At a regional level, Google Earth and historic maps are an excellent starting point, although the identification of sites of interest from aerial photographs requires an experienced eye. It is, however, an effective screening tool and can be used to prioritise sites for follow-up surveys.
  • Features of interest include previous uses, relic structures, waste materials, infilled ground, changes in topography, vegetation, odour, services and the condition of the adjacent sites.

Review of records

Local authorities hold a wealth of information on specific sites.

  • This can include lists of sites with possible land quality issues, historical information, and in some cases detailed land quality investigation reports. Each local authority is different in how it collects, holds and releases environmental information.
  • Information on filled ground (licensed and exempt sites) can be obtained from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
  • In Scotland, the Vacant and Derelict Land Register is also a useful source of information, but is limited to larger sites close to population centres.
  • Historic maps.

Based on the above, we can advise you on whether further site investigation is required to assess potential land quality issues and ensure that your site is suitable for the proposed end use.


Please do not hesitate to contact Brownfield First if you wish to discuss any aspect of site identification and investigation.