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Frequently Asked Questions

Are weeds an issue ?

Do your products conform to the newly revised BS Standard (BS3882:2015) ?

Can you deliver quickly anywhere in the UK ?

What is Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA) ?

Are TOPSOIL products free from Japanese Knotweed ?

Are TOPSOIL products recognised by the NHBC ?

What's special about TOPSOIL products ?

How do I keep it in optimum condition ?

How do I calculate how much I need ?

How much do TOPSOIL products cost ?

How do you ensure product quality ?

Q. Are weeds an issue ?

All British Sugar’s TOPSOIL products are derived from prime arable soils which do contain a bank of annual weed seeds. The natural fertility within the soil will encourage good plant weed growth. The control of weed is particularly important in the early stages of seeding to allow the sown grasses/species to thrive; if left unchecked the weeds will outcompete the grass or plants.

Within areas sown to grasses, the control of annual weeds is normally achieved by regular cutting/mowing. Control in planted areas is achieved by mulching; if a herbicide is used, please check the label for efficacy and application.

Q. Do your products conform to the newly revised BS Standard (BS3882:2015) ?

Landscape20, a general-purpose topsoil, is analysed to the new BS Standard (BS3882:2007) recently introduced in the UK.

Click here to view a presentation on the new standard

Q. Can you deliver quickly anywhere in the UK ?

With four manufacturing sites, and unrivalled access to experienced hauliers, we are in the unique position of being able to supply customers at any location in the UK. We regularly deliver within 2 days of the order being placed, however, 2-3 days notice is ideal as this means we can get the most competitive quotation for your haulage.

Our investment in covered storage means we can keep our topsoil products in optimum condition regardless of prevailing weather conditions.

Simply contact our Helpdesk on 0870 240 2314 for more details.

Q. What is Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA)?

The Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA) Model 2002 has been developed for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Environment Agency by the Centre for Research into the Built Environment at the Nottingham Trent University.

CLEA 2002 is a computer based application that combines information on the toxicity of soil contaminants with estimates of potential exposure by adults and children living, working and/or playing on land affected by contamination over long periods of time. The model focuses on pathways relevant to direct human health risks arising from exposure to contaminated land, consistent with the ‘suitable for use’ approach. It predicts the amount of contaminant to which they might be exposed based on a given soil contaminant concentration. By comparing predicted exposure with health criteria values on tolerable or acceptable contaminant intakes, the model is used to generate assessment criteria that establish a contaminant concentration in soil that is protective of human health.

The CLEA model aims to assess the risk to human health from contaminated soils. However, the model does not take into consideration the risk soil contaminants pose to plants, animals, buildings and Controlled Waters.

The new Soil Guideline Values (SGV) will help to answer the question ‘Does the soil concentration of contaminant ‘X’ pose a significant risk to human health?’ However they do not assess the risk to the environment. They are a tool that can be used to assess the risks posed to human health from exposure to soil contamination resulting form land use. They represent ‘intervention values’, which indicate to an assessor that soil concentrations above this level could pose an unacceptable risk to the health of site users and that further investigation and/or remediation is required. Soil Guideline Values combine both authoritative science and policy judgement.

The Soil Guideline Values (SGV) determined by the model assess the risk posed to human health from exposure to soil contaminants resulting from land use. Three typical land uses are considered by the CLEA model:

  • Residential (with and without vegetable growing)
  • Allotments
  • Commercial / industrial

The Soil Guideline Values can be used in connection with the formal requirements of Part 11A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (‘the contaminated land regime’). They allow the determination of contaminated land. However, they will also be relevant to many situations where the effect of land contamination on human health is an issue such as in planning applications when judging the need for action to ensure that a new use of the land does not pose unacceptable risks to health.

Soil Guideline Values have superseded the ICRCL values (Interdepartmental Committee on the Redevelopment of Contaminated Land) in respect of assessing risks to human health.

The following Soil Guideline Values related to the more sensitive end uses covered by Residential and Allotment sites. Where a soil contamination level exceeds the Soil Guideline Value the contaminant may pose a risk to the health of end users and further investigation is required.

Heavy Metal Soil Guideline Value (SGV)
Arsenic 20mg/kg
Chromium 130mg/kg
Cadmium 1mg/kg at pH 6
Cadmium 2mg/kg at pH 7
Cadmium 3mg/kg at pH 8
Mercury 3mg/kg
Lead 450mg/kg
Nickel 50mg/kg
Selenium 35mg/kg

It is important to ensure that any soil imported to site is free from significant contamination and pose no risk to human health. Current SGVs only consider a limited range of parameters. However, it is now widely accepted that Polyaromatic Hydrocarbon (PAHs) and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) analysis should be included when assessing the suitability of a topsoil for use in general landscaping or domestic gardens. It is anticipated that SGVs will be set for these parameters in the near future.


There are numerous compounds based on multiple aromatic rings (PAHs). It is not possible to analyse each individual compound, therefore, simple screening tests of the more potentially toxic individual PAHs are often used. The most commonly determined PAHs are the United States Environmental Protection Agency list of sixteen priority pollutants (US EPA16).

The sixteen compounds are naphthalene, acenaphthylene, acenaphthene, fluorine, phenanthrene, anthracene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, benzo(a)pyrene, indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene, dibenzo(a,h)anthracene, benzo(g,h,i)perylene.

Of the sixteen compounds benzo(a)pyrene has been identified by the Environment Agency as a carcinogenic marker substance. At present the Soil Guideline Value (SGV) for this compound has yet to be set as part of the Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA) Model. However, 1mg/kg benzo(a)pyrene and 40mg/kg total PAHs are widely accepted as the maximum target levels for general landscaping and domestic garden topsoil.


Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) describes a broad range of organic compounds derived from crude oil. Elevated TPH levels are typically found on brownfield sites where hydrocarbons may be present in the soil due to accidental spillage or as a by product of manufacturing industry or petroleum production. The TOPSOIL Suite 2 analysis determines any hydrocarbons present in the soil which fall into the C6-C40 range, which covers petrol and diesel range compounds. An acceptable level for most landscaping environments is <100mg/kg, although high values may be permissible on certain sites where the risks of potential contamination are deemed to be lower.

Q. Are TOPSOIL products free from Japanese Knotweed?

All of our production sites, Bury St Edmunds, Cantley, Newark and Wissington, are surveyed, on a biannual basis,  by Tim O’Hare Associates for Japanese Knotweed and Horsetail.

The most recent survey was conducted in August 2017 and confirmed that all TOPSOIL production areas are completely free of the Japanese Knotweed and Horsetail

If you would like a copy of the survey please call our  Helpdesk on 0870 240 2314 or e-mail Topsoil@BritishSugar.com

Q. Are TOPSOIL products recognised by the NHBC ?

The National House Building Council has allowed TOPSOIL to use the following statement: "British Sugar TOPSOIL can help builders meet the requirements of NHBC Standards, Chapter 10.2 – 10.2.8  'Drives, paths and landscaping', for topsoil"

We are very proud to have achieved this from them which follows a number of property construction projects where Landscape20 has been used very successfully.

Q. What's special about TOPSOIL products ?

TOPSOIL products are unique and of exceptional high-quality with a specification ideally suited to the professional landscaper and amenity manager. Our production process ensures that TOPSOIL products can fully form their ideal structure.

Overall, they have the following common benefits:

  • typically sandy loam (blend of sand, silt & clay)
  • friable, clean (not muckaway)
  • consistent specification from all our four TOPSOIL production sites
  • high fertility (P, K, Mg, N)
  • free of pests & diseases
  • free of pesticide contamination
  • low in potentially toxic elements (PTEs)
  • quality assured by a fully audited ISO-standard process
  • accredited as sustainable product by the Environmental Agency

A shining example of sustainability and concern for the environment.

Click here to view the Landscape20 Spec Sheet

Click here to view the Sports10 Spec Sheet

Q. How do I keep it in optimum condition?

All TOPSOIL products are delivered in their optimum condition and therefore to maintain the product’s consistency and ensure easy application, correct handling and storage on site is essential:

  • maximum 3 metre high stockpiles
  • keep vehicles and plant off the soil to avoid compaction
  • ideally place it on high ground to avoid flooding
  • keep segregated to avoid contamination

Q. How do I calculate how much I need?

Use the following as a guide for ordering the correct amount of TOPSOIL:

1. Calculate the cubic volume (width x length x depth)

2. Multiply this by 1.5 to estimate the tonnage required

Q. How much does it cost?

Due to variables such as quantity and delivery details, we price-up every job individually. Estimates are usually available immediately on enquiry by contacting our Helpdesk on 0870 240 2314.

You can collect your TOPSOIL order direct from our factories or we can arrange delivery. It is worth noting that we use haulage extensively and therefore can offer very competitive rates and flexible scheduling.

Q: How do you ensure product quality ?

As you'd expect from the UK's leading supplier, we take product quality very seriously and apply the tightest standards to every aspect of our operation.

Lloyds Approval

Our Quality Management System has been approved by Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance to ISO 9001:2000 standard.

In addition, we have achieved BS EN ISO 14001: 1996 for our Environmental Management System.

Sample Analysis

In order to give you the fullest assurance in our TOPSOIL product we can provide a typical analysis to demonstrate its suitability for general landscaping use. This is undertaken by an independent organisation with the capability to test products to an exacting standard.

In order to make the sample they test as representative as possible, a sampling procedure is strictly followed at our factory sites as can be seen by clicking here for the Topsoil Sampling Procedure.

TOPSOIL Sampling Procedure.

On receipt of the sample, the laboratory examines its physical and chemical parameters to confirm composition and fertility. This will include: pH value; electrical conductivity (salinity); plant nutrients; organic matter; particle size, stone content and potentially toxic elements.

This comprehensive analysis is enhanced by recommendations on planting and soil-handling, giving you the necessary level of assurance you need to embark on your landscaping project with total confidence.

British Standard

All TOPSOIL products conform to the new BS Standard (BS3882:2015) recently introduced in the UK.

Click here to view a presentation on the new standard

Benefits of using Topsoil

Quality product

All TOPSOIL products are developed from the soil that adheres to the sugar beet delivered to British Sugar’s factories and as such comes from the best agricultural soils in the country. After separation, the soil undergoes a gravity settlement stage prior to a lengthy conditioning process and careful storage ready for delivery to you.