Engaging a consultant

Contaminated land consultants can provide advice to businesses and individuals on contaminated land assessment and remediation.

The EPA does not recommend specific consultants or auditors.

A contaminated land consultant must be carefully selected. Contaminated land can present a range of issues that require technical expertise. There are also social, economic, and legal implications if site assessment and remediation do not meet environmental and planning standards. Poor management can usually result in further work to reach this standard, at an extra cost to the landowner or occupier. 

Certified contaminated land consultants

Consultant certification schemes

Certification schemes ensure consultants managing contaminated land have the necessary skills to carry out the work. The EPA currently recognises the following certifications

Requirements for reporting to the EPA

All contaminated land reports submitted to the EPA must be prepared, or reviewed and approved, by a certified consultant. This includes reports associated with a

  • preliminary investigation order
  • management order
  • voluntary management proposal
  • ongoing maintenance order

The report must include the details of the consultant’s certification, and a personalised electronic seal for either the CEnvP(SC) or CPSS CSAM scheme. 

Contaminated Land Consultant Certification Policy

The Contaminated Land Consultant Certification Policy aims to help protect human health and the environment by improving the standard of contaminated land work in NSW. It sets out the EPA's requirements for the use of certified contaminated land consultants in the preparation of reports provided to the EPA, and supports the implementation of independent consultant certification schemes.

Policy review

The policy was first published in 2017, and the EPA regularly reviews it to ensure it is meeting our objectives.

As part of the latest review, targeted consultation with invited stakeholders was held in March and April 2021. Stakeholders included EPA staff, site auditors, certified and non-certified consultants, local councils, landowners and developers and included large and small businesses, from metropolitan and regional areas, inside and outside NSW.

The policy has been updated in response to the feedback received during consultation. The response to submissions details the feedback received and our responses to each issue.

We received 58 submissions, some included comments.

Stakeholder feedback has been incorporated into changes to the policy The two approved certification schemes have been contacted to raise concerns that were received.

The majority of submissions were positive about the policy and its impacts on contaminated land reporting in NSW, but some concerns were raised about implementation of the policy. Feedback fell into five categories

  1. concerns about certification requirements or administration of the schemes
  2. concerns about the quality of reports being drafted or being reviewed and approved by consultants
  3. expanding the types of work or reports that require certified consultants
  4. confusion around the role of certified consultants, particularly in relation to site auditors
  5. other
Category Submission comment EPA response Location in policy


There are concerns about the level of expertise of some of the consultants and organisations gaining certification, and it was suggested that the certification schemes should be more rigorous in their selection and evaluation processes.

The two consultant certification schemes operate independently of each other and of the EPA, and the EPA does not have an administrative or compliance role in relation to the schemes. However, the EPA has raised the matter of certification standards with the certification schemes, and has recommended the schemes review their certification requirements.

Sections 3.2, 3.3
1 Concerns were raised that breaches of accreditation requirements may not be being addressed appropriately, and that the complaints process is not clear or transparent. The EPA has discussed this matter with the certification schemes and is satisfied that adequate processes are in place to respond to any complaints or breaches of requirements. Sections 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 5.2


Concerns were raised that inadequate guidance and support is provided to certified consultants by the certification schemes.

The EPA has raised this matter with the certification schemes and has recommend that both schemes identify options to improve administration and communications processes.



There are concerns that costs and requirements for ongoing professional development (OPD) for certified consultants are too high, and that current OPD requirements disadvantage consultants in regional areas, due to high travel and accommodation costs.

The EPA has raised the matter of OPD costs and requirements with the certification schemes and will continue to liaise with the schemes as appropriate to ensure that consultants in regional areas are not disadvantaged.



It was suggested the policy be more closely aligned with other states, and the schemes should consider mutual recognition of certification from other jurisdictions.

The EPA is satisfied that the policy is generally consistent with approaches to contaminated land consultant certification in other states, where available. The EPA understands that both NSW certification schemes currently recognise qualifications obtained in other jurisdictions, under certain circumstances.



Several submissions suggested that separate certification be introduced for a range of contaminated land professionals such as field workers, remedial site supervisors etc.

The EPA does not currently support the introduction of a range of separate contaminated land certifications but has provided this feedback to both certification schemes for their consideration.



Concerns were raised about the quality of some reports being prepared by certified consultants.

The EPA’s Consultants Reporting on Contaminated Land – Contaminated Land Guidelines provides a series of checklists for consultants to use when reporting on contaminated sites. The policy has been updated to refer to these checklists, which should help achieve a uniform approach and consistent level of quality for contaminated land reports.

Section 2.4


Concerns were raised about the quality of work being ‘reviewed and approved’ by certified consultants.

The policy has been amended to clarify the requirements of certified consultants when ‘reviewing and approving’ third party reports, namely that “the responsibility of a certified consultant for reviewing and approving a report is the same as if they were co-author, either in substance or in a supervising role. Their sign-off of approval should not be subject to disclaimers limiting responsibility for completeness or accuracy.”

Section 2.5


It has been alleged that some contaminated land reports provided to local councils have been approved by consultants certified in fields other than contaminated land management.

The EPA has no authority over reports provided to local councils; this is at the discretion of the council. However, the policy has been amended to clarify that “Certified consultants that hold accreditation that is not specifically related to contaminated land or site contamination (e.g. certified Heritage specialist) are not permitted to prepare, or review and approve contaminated land reports for submissions to the EPA to comply with the requirements of the CLM Act.

Section 2.3


It was suggested that all contaminated land reports submitted to auditors, and those required for statutory purposes, including development applications, should be prepared or reviewed and approved by a certified consultant.

Specifying the required credentials of a contaminated land consultant is at the discretion of the person engaging the consultant. While all reports submitted to the EPA to comply with the requirements of the CLM Act must be prepared or approved by a certified contaminated land consultant, extending this requirement to reports submitted to site auditors, or as part of the planning process is outside of the EPA’s jurisdiction. The policy has been updated to reflect this.

The policy directs readers to information on the EPA’s website to help businesses and individuals select a contaminated land consultant.

Sections 2.6, 4.4


Several submissions raised concerns about local councils having already adopted the requirement for certified consultants, as this may restrict opportunities for small but experienced consultancies winning local projects.

The EPA does not require local councils to use certified consultants to prepare contaminated land reports but is aware that some councils have proactively adopted a similar policy.

The policy has been developed for the EPA’s purposes and is implemented through conditions on statutory notices issued by the EPA. Extending the requirement for the use of certified consultants to local councils would require amendments to planning legislation, and could potentially disadvantage smaller contaminated land consultancies, particularly in regional areas. The policy has been updated to clarify this.

Section 2.6


It was suggested that consideration should be given to broadening the type of work that can be undertaken by certified practitioners, such as preparation and/or independent review of environmental management plans and monitoring programs.

Certified contaminated land consultants are not currently prevented from undertaking work such as independent reviews of environmental management plans. The policy states that “the EPA requires all reports submitted to it to comply with the requirements of the CLM Act to be prepared, or reviewed and approved, by a certified contaminated land consultant. The requirement includes reports associated with a:

  • preliminary investigation order
  • management order
  • voluntary management proposal
  • ongoing maintenance order.”

Section 2.1


There is some confusion about the roles of certified consultants and site auditors. It was suggested that certified consultants should be used in place of auditors where possible, but concerns were also raised about the quality implications if this were to be adopted as policy.

The policy has been updated to clarify the roles and responsibilities of site auditors and certified consultants, consistent with the EPA’s Consultants Reporting on Contaminated Land – Contaminated Land Guidelines. There has been no change to the role of auditors or certified consultants as a result of the policy review.

Section 4


It was suggested that certification schemes be linked to recognised training schemes, to help address a perceived bias on accreditation being based on years of experience rather than skill.

The EPA has raised this matter with the certification schemes and will assess available options for integration with training schemes.



Submissions included queries about the EPA's expectations of certification schemes, and how the EPA engages with the schemes to identify and address emerging issues.

The policy has been updated to clarify the EPA's expectations of certification schemes, and to clarify how the EPA engages with the certification bodies to address any emerging issues with the schemes.

Sections 5.2, 3.4

Where to find a consultant

There are many environmental consultants, but not all will have the relevant skills or qualifications in contaminated land assessment and remediation.

Internet search

Enter 'Environmental consultants' in a search engine like Google, or the Yellow Pages.

Professional associations

Professional associations may provide contact details of their members. Some associations are

Word of mouth

Contact people or businesses you know who have engaged a contaminated land consultant and ask if they can make a recommendation.

What to look for in a consultant

The consultant you choose should meet the following criteria

  • experience in contaminated land assessment and management
  • knowledge of relevant NSW legislation and guidelines, planning and development processes, and local council policy 
  • appropriate insurance cover
  • certification under the CEnvP(SC) or CPSS CSAM scheme (if possible)
  • documented procedures for completing a project, including a quality control and quality assurance program
  • appropriately skilled people to your job - technical skills needed can be found in Schedule (B9) on Competencies and Acceptance of Environmental Auditors and Related Professionals of the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999
  • professional and ethical reputation
  • able to complete projects on budget and on schedule
  • network of contacts to provide opinion when necessary
  • excellent communication skills

Selecting your consultant

Make a short list of contaminated land consultants with appropriate skills and qualifications, and ask for a quote of the project. Try to identify at least three candidates for consideration.

Provide as much information as you can about the property, including the history of activity at the site, potential sources of contamination, and company records on where and how chemicals and wastes have been used or stored. Detailed information will allow consultants to be more accurate in their quotes.

Create a list of the services you need from the consultant (usually called the 'scope of works'). If you're not sure what's needed, the EPA's Guidelines for consultants reporting on contaminated sites (PDF 428KB) provides a description of contaminated land assessment and remediation, and the works involved in each stage.

Ask for the following in each quote

  • the consultant's understanding of the project and a summary of how they propose to undertake the work, including any proposed sampling plans and laboratory analysis
  • the project team, their qualifications and experience, and the consultant's main contact for the project (the 'Project Manager')
  • the consultant's experience working on similar projects (including project summaries and, if possible, contact details and references for their clients)
  • whether any plans and reports will be prepared, or approved, by a certified contaminated land consultant
  • details of the consultancy's health and safety procedures, and other relevant qualifications specific to the intended work (for example confined space training)
  • whether the consultancy has an accredited quality system (ISO 9000 or equivalent)
  • familiarity with relevant NSW legislation and guidelines (environmental and planning)
  • details and qualifications of all sub-contractors the consultant intends to use, and what they will be used for
  • a breakdown of your costs and whether the work is to be performed on a fixed total cost, or a fees and expenses basis, and a schedule of rates for any additional work that needs to be undertaken beyond the original scope
  • timing of all stages of the project and a date for receiving the final report
  • insurance details of the consultant (including professional indemnity and public liability).

It might also be appropriate to ask the consultants whether they have any conflict of interest in undertaking the work and whether they will have qualified staff available at the time you want the job done. 

Check the references provided before choosing a consultant. You can get valuable information about the standard of their work, ability to communicate, stay on schedule, and keeping costs down, by talking to companies they have previously worked for.

Engaging a consultant

Once you have selected a consultant, you'll need a contract that sets out the services they will provide. The contract should include

  • the scope and nature of the work
  • when you will receive progress reports
  • indemnities and limits on liability and insurance
  • information flow
  • document ownership and retention procedures
  • methods of costing.

Consultants may attach a standard contract to their proposal, but they will likely be prepared to negotiate a suitable agreement. Ask a solicitor for advice if you are not familiar with contracts.

Before you sign the contract, ensure that the consultant identifies any changes to their quote if some time has passed since it was submitted.

Engaging a site auditor

The NSW site auditor scheme is managed by the EPA with the aim to protect the environment and human health through proper management of contaminated land. The scheme provides the public access to competent technical advice with increased certainty in the 'sign-off' of contaminated land assessments and remediation.

See the NSW site auditor scheme for more information.


The EPA has prepared this information in good faith, exercising due care and attention. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to the relevance, accuracy, completeness or fitness for purpose of this information in respect of any particular user's circumstances. Users of this information should satisfy themselves with its application to, and where necessary seek expert advice in respect of, their situation.

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