Non-Technical Survey

  • Version
    Ed. 1, Amendment 3
  • Creation
    19 Mar 2019

This standard should be read in conjunction with IMAS 07.11 Land Release and 08.20 Technical Survey.

Non-technical survey is typically the starting point for the assessment of land, its categorisation as a suspected or confirmed hazardous area (SHA/CHA), and the associated processes of cancelling, reducing or clearing land for productive use. It involves a thorough investigation of new information about possible Explosive Ordnance (EO) contamination, or a previously recorded hazardous area, generally without the use of mine action assets inside the suspected area.

Non-technical survey is usually considerably less costly than technical survey and clearance, yet it can have the greatest impact, in terms of square metres, of all the activities associated with the definition and management of contaminated land.

The term non-technical survey encompasses all non-technical means, including desk assessments, analysis of historical records and a wide range of other information gathering and analysis functions, as well as physical visits to field locations. All elements of the non-technical process revolve around identifying, accessing, collecting, reporting and using information to help define where EO is to be found, as well as where it is not, and to support land cancellation, reduction and clearance decision making processes.

Resources for responding to EO contamination problems are costly, limited and precious. It is appropriate to expect that they will be used as efficiently as possible, within the graduated response described in IMAS 07.11. Expensive technical assets should not be deployed onto tasks unless there is sufficient evidence to justify their use, and the extent of the task has been defined as reliably and accurately as possible. Non-technical survey is the primary means for achieving that justification and for providing the evidence to support decisions to deploy technical assets.

At the same time, non-technical survey may yield enough evidence on its own to allow land to be cancelled, in line with the requirements to demonstrate that “all reasonable effort” has been applied. This standard provides guidance on the meaning of “all reasonable effort” in relation to non-technical survey.

Carrying out non-technical survey to the highest standards is of fundamental importance to the effectiveness and efficiency with which the remainder of the land release process is applied. Inefficient non-technical survey can lead to the creation of excessive suspected hazardous areas (SHAs), preventing productive use of land and creating an unnecessary demand for follow on technical action. Effective non-technical survey not only addresses immediate questions about the nature and extent of hazardous areas, but provides information to help all subsequent stages of the land release process be more efficient and reliable.

Showing that relevant information has been identified, accessed, collected and analysed, to support decision-making is critical to the concept of “all reasonable effort” and underpins the basic aim of any land release process to achieve confidence amongst all stakeholders, including land users.

Non-technical survey should not take place in isolation from subsequent activities within the land release process. Continual improvement of non-technical survey processes and procedures relies upon review of performance in light of what was subsequently discovered within hazardous areas, including details of what hazard items were or were not found during technical interventions, and the results of longer term monitoring of areas following release.

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