UK UXO Services

SafeLane Global (previously BACTEC) supports your engineering, construction or infrastructure project by identifying and mitigating your risk of encountering legacy unexploded ordnance (UXO). Here's a reminder of our core services, broken down by the four stages of Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) C681 guidelines.

What is Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)?

Unexploded Ordnance (abbreviated to UXO or UXB (Unexploded Bombs)) is explosive ordnance, such as grenades and bombs, that failed to detonate correctly.  In the United Kingdom, UXO typically originates from faulty German World War II bombs that failed to explode, abandoned or unexploded allied ordnance, or munitions from army training sites (e.g., firing ranges). 

It is estimated that approximately 10% of bombs dropped during World War II failed to detonate correctly, and, as such, lay dormant across the UK.

How can the risk of UXO be mitigated?

SafeLane Global offers a wide range of UXO risk mitigation services which can be seen below.  Each method caters to a different phase of the Construction Industry Research and Information Association’s guide to unexploded ordnance for the construction industry (CIRIA C681: learn more).

SafeLane’s services are all-encompassing, meaning that we can offer you everything from the preliminary reports that detail the likelihood that UXO exists on your site, down to the final disposal and clearance of UXO, making your risk levels as low as reasonably possible (ALARP).

Stage 1: Preliminary Risk Assessments:

Using data from a unique nationwide geospatial database of unexploded ordnance risk factors, SafeLane can produce the most reliable and trustworthy preliminary risk assessment available in the UK.

This preliminary unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk assessment enables you to make informed decisions about the potential UXO risk affecting your land site or marine project.  A preliminary risk assessment reduces evaluation time, improves project risk management, proposes clear risk mitigation actions and saves you money.

Call: 01634 775 943 or email to order your report.

Stage 2: Detailed Risk Assessments:

A detailed risk assessment provides a bespoke, site-specific, comprehensive report on the potential risk posed by UXO to proposed works.  All surveys are based on a site’s location, the potential extent plus the source and nature of likely UXO, as well as the likelihood and consequence of encountering UXO related to the proposed use of a site.

Call: 01634 775 943 or email to order your detailed risk assessment.

Stage 3: Risk Mitigation Measures:

A non-intrusive survey uses magnetometers to detect ferrous anomalies – which could be munitions, bombs or other dangerous threats.  They are often utilised pre-intrusive construction works such as piling. 

Non-intrusive surveys can either be pedestrian (meaning they are carried out by two people walking over the ground with detection equipment) or towed (towing a sensor trailer with an all-terrain vehicle (ATV)).  Ground conditions, terrain and the amount of ground that needs to be covered may dictate which method is chosen for your project.

On construction sites where a desktop or non-intrusive survey has identified a risk of encountering deep buried unexploded ordnance, and where intrusive works such as piled foundations are planned, intrusive surveys can enable detection and clearance of the risk – ahead of piling or borehole drilling.

Intrusive surveys for UXO are normally undertaken using magnetometers.  SafeLane has two proprietary methods for conducting intrusive surveys for its clients:

  • Pushing magnetometers into the ground using hydraulic rams; this is known at SafeLane as the BXP methodology.
  • Lowering magnetometers into non-ferrous tubes which are inserted into boreholes formed using a rotary drill or other hole forming method. This is referred to as the TFG methodology at SafeLane.

In optimal conditions, BXP rigs can achieve a maximum of 20 intrusive surveys per day, TFG rigs can achieve around 8 surveys per day.

BXP rigs are bigger and can cover more ground faster than a TFG rig, but TFG rigs can get through harder ground and can be used in confined spaces.

Your SafeLane consultant will assess your site and make the most appropriate recommendation, taking into account all considerations including your project timelines and financial constraints.

Call: 01634 775 943 or email to discuss your project’s needs.

Stage 4: UXO Risk Mitigation Plan:

SafeLane Global can deliver UXO emergency response plans as well as full UXO mitigation for complex sites and operations.  It can rapidly deploy across the UK.

It can gather and process survey data and create an efficient and cost-effective methodology for full target investigation works.  If the data presents a high risk of UXO being present on a site, SafeLane can carry out target investigation works. 

By utilising SafeLane’s on-site target investigation services, costly delays can be avoided, saving you time and money.

Alternatively, if the risk is deemed such that a watching brief should be delivered you will have an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) engineer quite literally watching works, such as shallow excavations on a brownfield site.  They are immediately available to identify or discount anything that’s unearthed that looks suspicious.

A watching brief can save a significant amount of time and money, keeping projects on track, avoiding unnecessary downtime and critically, ensuring site personnel are safe.

Call: 01634 775 943 or email to discuss how we can help you mitigate your explosive risk.

UXO Training

SafeLane Global also offers a range of bespoke UXO related training courses, which can be customised depending on your requirements.  SafeLane’s training courses are CPD accredited and can be delivered directly to your site or office by one of SafeLane’s highly qualified Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts.

Unexploded Ordnance Safety & Awareness Training

This course is designed for construction and infrastructure workers, in addition to emergency first responders (e.g., firefighters). It is delivered by SafeLane Global’s subject matter expert, Nigel Barton, who has over 30 years of EOD and C-IED instruction and training experience. 

The presentation highlights the history of UXO, details the types of bombs and munitions typically found in the UK, how to identify them, and what should be done if UXO is discovered.

To learn more, visit the CPD training page.

Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Risk Mitigation Training

This training course details the various methods that can be used to mitigate the risk of UXO on construction / infrastructure sites.  It details the types of UXO typically discovered on sites across the UK, and the best methods for detecting and removing UXO – depending on the risk level and type of site (e.g., greenfield / brownfield). 

Call: 01634 775 943 or email to discuss how SafeLane Global can help educate and train your team about UXO. 


Case studies

How SafeLane battled birds and bombs in the Orkney Islands

In 2020, SafeLane's UK land team took on an atypical project in the Orkney Islands. While the services provided were normal (UXO risk mitigation ), some extra requirements brought a fresh challenge.

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High risk of encountering UXO when dredging in the Thames Estuary UK

SafeLane's marine team supported Van Oord with unexploded ordnance clearance during the dredging of the Princess Channel in the Thames Estuary.

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Clearing munitions to support dredging operations

The consequences of failing to factor in unexploded ordnance (UXO) services during dredging operations can be catastrophic.

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Drilling pile locations

During an intrusive UXO survey, SafeLane identified complex ground conditions and remained on site to assist the constructor by drilling pile locations.

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Geotechnical investigation for pile design

SafeLane supported a geotechnical consultancy client by drilling boreholes to assess ground conditions in central London ahead of planned piling works.

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Ground source heat pump borehole installation

SafeLane installed a ground source heat pump (GSHP) and water borehole for a commercial property, overcoming site access issues and delivering significant savings for the client.

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Intrusive survey for airdropped bombs UK

The company was contracted to provide UXO risk mitigation services for infrastructure development at a sewage treatment works in UK.

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Intrusive surveys for pile positions

SafeLane is conducting intrusive surveys of a brown field construction site in Swansea.

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Intrusive surveys to support Rochester Airport’s expansion plans

Rochester Airport's expansion plans have been supported by SafeLane Global who were called to conduct intrusive surveys.

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Intrusive UXO surveys for pile foundations

SafeLane conducted over 3,300 intrusive UXO surveys at London's Royal Albert Dock, to ensure the proposed pile foundation locations were free from WWII ordnance.

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Non-intrusive survey for a solar energy farm UK

Non-intrusive survey of a former Royal Air Force station that was being developed as a utility scale solar energy farm.

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Pre-drill surveys Deptford Wharves UK

Pre-drill surveys and full site clearance for a multinational construction infrastructure company.

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Supporting the development of A roads – a case study

SafeLane Global is proudly providing UXO risk mitigation services to Balfour Beatty, supporting their scheme to enhance the A63 in Hull.

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Supporting the safe construction of a hybrid solar windfarm

SafeLane’s UK Land team has been working to support a valued client as they develop a new hybrid solar windfarm.

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UXO clearance for UK constructor

SafeLane Global was commissioned to provide unexploded ordnance clearance ahead of piling works for the construction of a large housing project in Enfield, London, UK.

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UXO disposal for construction company in Scotland

SafeLane Global developed and implemented a comprehensive unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk mitigation strategy for a development project on a former RAF site.

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UXO risk assessment for UK constructor

Provision of detailed risk assessment of a residential estate within a central London Borough, prior to its demolition and redevelopment.

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UXO risk assessments

SafeLane Global provided preliminary risk assessments for 46 sites in the South East of England, prior to the refurbishment and installation of water mains.

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UXO risk mitigation strategy for UK constructor

SafeLane delivered a comprehensive unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk mitigation strategy for a UK constructor working on a former MoD site.

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UXO survey & clearance central London

Tideway is building a 25km Super Sewer under the River Thames and SafeLane helped with UXO surveys and clearance operations at multiple sites in central London.

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UXO survey and clearance work for the National Trust

The National Trust became a new client for SafeLane in 2020, when we began working for them at Studland Bay in Dorset, dealing with lizards, naturists and of course…ordnance.

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View case studies


Whether you're in the pre-planning or operational phase, NOW is the time to consider your project's UXO risk exposure. Call us to discuss how you can keep your project on time and budget and how you can protect your staff, your reputation and commercial bottom line.