Southwest Environmental Limited
Level 26, 1 Bligh Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia

Phone: 0283137132            Email:

Environmental Consultancy Services to Industry, Business and Individuals

Geo-Environmental Consultants


Assessment of Contaminated Land

The planning authority will likely ask question similar to below when trying to gauge whether a contaminated land assessment of a site is required:

If the answer to any of the above is yes then there is potential for ground to be contaminated, and this may have negative impacts on future site users. It this point the planning authority may recommend an Initial Evaluation Report should be undertaken.

The below Guidance relates to New South Wales guidance but a similar approach would be taken right across Australia.

Stage 1 — Preliminary Investigation

If there are questions with regard to the history of the site then a check may be made as part of an Initial Evaluation. The idea being to look for past activities whether on site or on neighboring sites that may have an impact of ground or ground water quality. Small selection of industries that may be cause for concerns are shown below (for full list please see page 12 of this document) :

If the above of other potentially contaminative industries has been taking place on site then further reporting may be required.

The main objectives of a preliminary investigation are to identify any past or present potentially contaminating activities, provide a preliminary assessment of any site contamination and, if required, provide a basis for a more detailed investigation. A preliminary investigation is not necessary where contamination is not an issue.

Stage 2 — Detailed Investigation

A detailed investigation is only necessary when a preliminary investigation indicates that the land is contaminated or that it is, or was, formally used for an activity listed in Table 1 and a land use change is proposed that has the potential to increase the risk of exposure to contamination. A detailed investigation will also need to be conducted as part of a remediation proposal. The objectives of a detailed investigation are to define the nature, extent and degree of contamination; to assess potential risk posed by contaminants to health and the environment; and to obtain sufficient information to develop a remedial action plan (RAP), if required.

Stage 3—Remedial Action Plan

The objective of an RAP, or plan of remediation, is to set objectives and document the process to remediate the site.

Stage 4—Validation and Monitoring

The objective of validation and monitoring is to demonstrate whether the objectives stated in the RAP and any conditions of development consent have been achieved. SEPP 55 requires a notice of completion for all remediation work. Validation is an important prerequisite of this notice.


New South Wales - Guidelines for Consultants Reporting on Contaminated Sites