Contaminated Land

If you intend to develop land that is contaminated or potentially contaminated council may require you to investigate, remediate and/or validate contaminated soil or groundwater as part of your development proposal.  You may also wish to undertake these actions to have the planning certificate for your property updated to reflect action you have taken.

Council requires that you engage a suitably qualified and experienced environmental consultant if you wish to investigate and take remediation action on your land.The environmental consultant must be certified by one of the following certification schemes:

  • EIANZ ‘Certified Environmental Practitioner - Site Contamination’ scheme (CEnvP SC).
  • Soil Science Australia ‘Certified Professional Soil Scientist - Contaminated Site Assessment & Management’ scheme (SSA CPSS CSAM).

 The NSW Environmental Protection Agency provides useful information regarding engaging a certified contaminated land consultant.

The following are steps that may be required in undertaking remediation/validation action on contaminated land. 

Step 1 - Preliminary site investigation

A preliminary site investigation report provided by an Environmental Consultant should:

  • Identify all past and present potentially contaminating activities on the site.
  • Identify potential contamination types.
  • Discuss the condition of the site eg, any cracking, staining, dead vegetation or areas where vegetation won’t grow.
  • Provide a preliminary assessment of site contamination.
  • Assess the need for further investigations.

If the result of the preliminary site investigation has determined there is a need for further investigations a detailed site investigation will be required (Step 2).

Step 2 - Detailed site investigation

The detailed site investigation report should give comprehensive information on and assessment of:

  • Issues raised in the preliminary investigation.
  • The type, extent and level of contamination.
  • The contaminant dispersal in air, surface water, groundwater, soil and dust.
  • The potential effects of contaminants on public health, the environment and building structures.
  • Any off-site impacts on soil, sediment and biota.
  • An assessment of whether the land is suitable for its intended use in its current state or whether remediation is required to reduce the risk of harm to human and/or the environment or prior to redevelopment of the site.

Where the results of the detailed site investigation indicate that remediation is required, a remedial action plan (RAP) is required (Step 3).

Step 3 - Site remedial action plan 

A remedial action plan (RAP) needs to be prepared and submitted with a development application or under an order.

A site RAP should:

  • Set remediation goals that ensure the remediated site will be suitable for the proposed use and will pose no unacceptable risk to human health or the environment.
  • Document in detail all procedures and plans to be implemented to reduce risks to acceptable levels for the proposed site use.
  • Establish the environmental safeguards required to complete the remediation in an environmentally acceptable manner.
  • Identify and include proof of the necessary approvals and licences required by regulatory authorities.

Once remedial work is complete, a report should be prepared detailing the site work conducted and regulatory decisions made.

Step 4 - Validation and site monitoring reports

Validation reporting

Where remedial action has been carried out, the site must be validated to ensure that the objectives stated in the RAP have been achieved.  A report detailing the results of the site validation will be required to be submitted to council.  

The validation report must:

  • Confirm statistically that the remediated site complies with the clean-up criteria set for the site.
  • Assess the results of the post-remediation testing against the clean-up criteria stated in the RAP.  Where targets have not been achieved, reasons must be stated and additional site work proposed to achieve the original RAP objectives.
  • Provide documentary evidence of the correct disposal of soil, USTs or other materials removed from site.

Ongoing site monitoring reporting

Where full clean-up is not feasible or on-site containment of contamination has been approved, the need for an ongoing monitoring program should be discussed with council.  If a monitoring program is required it should detail the proposed monitoring strategy, parameters to be monitored, monitoring locations, frequency of monitoring, and reporting requirements.

Site auditors and site audit statements

A site audit statement may be required by council where:

  • The land use changes to a more sensitive land use (eg, where rezoning occurs), or
  • Council believes that the information provided by the applicant is incorrect or incomplete, or
  • Council wishes to verify the information provided by the applicant to ensure that it adheres to appropriate standards, procedures and guidelines, or
  • Council do not have the internal resources to conduct its own technical review, and may require the appointment of a site auditor at the applicant's cost.


Address: ,

More information


Enquiries can be directed to Environmental Science & Policy Unit on 9710 0561 or

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