More than half of the respondents to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) survey understood that compost can improve soil nutrient levels (57%), soil structure (55%) and water retention (53%) on brownfield sites.
However, work still needs to be done, by WRAPs Organics Brownfield programme, to educate developers, designers, specifiers and contractors and get them to use more.
The survey found that of the 30% involved in the specification process who would consider using quality compost in topsoil manufacture, only 13% actually did.
Half of respondents asked said the most common source for onsite soil was imported natural topsoil. Cost was another major factor when specifying soil improvement products.
WRAP key account manager for brownfield Paul Mathers said: It is great news that, in theory, so many people seemed to understand many of the key benefits.
We are working closely with industry stakeholders through a series of trailblazer projects to put that theory into practice and also prove some of the financial benefits too. In fact, some of the pilot projects showed significant improvement in cost efficiencies with, in some cases, costs reduced by over 50% when compared to importing natural topsoil.
One trailblazer project in Chorley, on a former Royal Ordnance Munitions factory, is trialling high quality compost as well as exploring the carbon sequestration of using compost in making topsoil.
The project is part of WRAPs Organics programme and is being delivered in partnership with Envirolink Northwest, Liverpool John Moores University, Ecological Restoration Consultants and BAE Systems, which owns the site.