In NSW, contaminated land has become an important environmental, planning, economic and health issue over the past few years. An increased redevelopment of former industrial sites combined with changing community standards and perceptions have enhanced the recognition of the problems associated with contaminated sites.

Contaminated land can occur anywhere, but they are typically clustered around heavily used industrial sites and agriculture lands. Sometimes it can be residential properties with lead paint or excessive use of pesticides.

Regulation

In NSW, the management of contaminated land is shared by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the Department of Planning and Infrastructure and planning consent authorities (usually local councils).

Under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997, the EPA regulates contaminated sites where the contamination is significant enough to warrant regulation.

Contaminated sites that are not regulated by the EPA are managed by local councils through land use planning processes. The planning and development control process under the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DoP) aims to ensure that land is not put to inappropriate use due to contamination issues.

NSW Environment Protection Authority

The Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) administered by EPA establishes a process for investigating and (where appropriate) remediating land areas where contamination presents a significant risk to human health and environment.

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) is also administered by EPA and is designed to ensure the remediation practices and future land uses do not pose a risk to the environment or human health. Further Information on these regulatory mechanisms can be obtained from the following links:

NSW Planning and Infrastructure

The planning and development control process under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) is important in the management of land contamination. It ensures that land is not allowed to be put to a use that is inappropriate because of the presence of contamination and incorporates mechanisms to ensure that:

  • planning authorities consider contamination issues when they are making rezoning and development decisions
  • local councils provide information about land contamination on planning certificates that they issue under section 149 of the EP&A Act
  • land remediation is facilitated and controlled through State Environmental Planning Policy 55 – Remediation of Land (SEPP55).

Further information can be obtained from the following links:

Role of NSW Ministry of Health

The NSW Ministry of Health and Public Health Units do not have a regulatory role in management of contaminated land. Land contamination issues can often reveal presence of contaminants which can impact human health, either by retention on-site or in the processes of remediation. In these instances, Ministry is asked to provide expert opinion and assistance.

The local Public Health Units assesses the potential public health impacts associated with the contaminated land and provides advice on effective management of these risks. Communication of potential risks and mitigation measures to local residents is also managed by the Public Health Units.

Resources

EnHealth (Environmental Health)

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

Australian Drinking Water Guidelines

National Environment Protection Measures

NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA)

NSW Health

NSW Guidelines for Remediation of Clandestine Drug Laboratories and Hydroponic Drug Plantations
A Report to Hea​lth Protection NSW

Toxicology information

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Page Updated: Monday 28 September 2015