Contaminated land refers to land contaminated by hazardous substances (such arsenic, DDT or oil) which may pose a risk to human health and/or the environment. Contamination of soil typically arises as a result of poor environmental management practices which have occurred on or adjacent to the site. Occasionally, activities not relating directly to the site (such as pollution from groundwater under the site or settlement of airborne contaminants on the site) can contaminate the sites soil.
The potential causes of land contamination which follow are to be considered when investigating whether or not a particular site is likely to be contaminated:
- Acid/alkali plant and formulation;
- Agricultural/horticultural activities;
- Asbestos production and disposal;
- Chemicals manufacture and formulation;
- Defence works;
- Drum re-conditioning works;
- Dry cleaning establishments;
- Electrical manufacturing (transformers);
- Electroplating and heat treatment premises;
- Engine works;
- Explosive industry;
- Gas works;
- Iron and steel works;
- Landfill sites;
- Metal treatment;
- Mining and extractive industries;
- Oil production and storage;
- Paint formulation and manufacture;
- Pesticide manufacture and formulation;
- Power stations;
- Railway yards;
- Scrap yards;
- Service stations;
- Sheep and cattle dips;
- Smelting and refining;
- Tanning and associated trades;
- Waste storage and treatment; and
- Wood preservation
Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, Council is legally required to note on Planning Certificates whether the land which the certificate relates is:
- Within land declared to be an investigation area or remediation site;
- Subject to an investigation order or a remediation order;
- The subject of a voluntary investigation proposal (or a voluntary remediation proposal) the subject of the Environment Protection Authority’s agreement; or
- Subject to a site audit statement.
The State Government legislative requirements are provided through State Environmental Planning Policy No. 55 Remediation of Land and the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.
Under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) regulates contaminated sites that pose a significant risk of harm to human health or the environment.
As part of the development application process, Council is required by legislation to consider whether land is contaminated. Council requires applicants to provide information about contamination in certain circumstances. This information is often provided as part of the Statement of Environmental Effects.
The applicant is required to address issues such as previous and current land uses and activities of the site and adjoining sites, any known contamination of the land and details of any contamination investigation reports or remediation works that have occurred on the land.