IMMINENT changes in utilities specifications could lead to the use of soil stabilisers through-out the UK - bringing environmental benefits, and cost savings for contractors.
Amendments to the Highways and Utility specifications are widely expected to end the present situation in which stabilisers can only be used if individual councils give their approval.
Clive Holloway, director of SMR, one of two companies which produce the stabiliser, said: 'Currently, 25 local authorities have sanctioned the use of the powder.
'But changes in the specifications would mean I could sell millions of bags a week.'
He claimed that using the powder would mean 'no landfill tax, no aggregate tax, no tipping charge - everyone working in the utilities field would save money'.
Thames Water has carried out the most extensive trials of the stabiliser, which is based on a cementitious compound, using it for streetwork repairs in London.
The specially formulated powder allowed Thames' contractor to fill holes dug for pipe repairs with the material originally removed.
The stabiliser bonds the soil together, minimising the risk of subsidence. Under current legislation, the soil is too weak to be re-used without the powder and has to be sent by truck to landfill sites, increasing traffic pollution.
According to Thames, the powder also cuts out the need for freshly quarried material to be transported to refill the excavations, reducing traffic congestion and saving the company thousands of pounds a year.
Trevor Jones, Thames Water's managing director, claimed: 'The environmental benefits are significant. It makes it a whole lot easier to complete repairs with the minimum of disturbance.'
Permasoil is the only other company currently marketing or producing the product, but it is understood that Transco is working on its own version in anticipation of changes in the specifications.