Role of planning authorities

NSW planning authorities regulate contaminated land that is not 'significantly contaminated' through the planning and development process. These lands do not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment under the current, approved use of the land.

The planning and development process is subject to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), State Environmental Planning Policy 55 - Remediation of Land (SEPP 55), and the Managing Land Contamination: Planning Guidelines SEPP 55 - Remediation of Land (PDF 219 KB) (SEPP 55 Guidelines). The process ensures that

  • planning authorities consider contamination when making rezoning and development decisions
  • local councils provide information about land contamination on planning certificates issued under section 10.7 of the EP&A Act
  • remediation is enabled and controlled through SEPP55.

State Environmental Planning Policy 55 - Remediation of Land

Planning authorities must consider, at the development approval and rezoning stage, if contamination will adversely affect the suitability of a site for its proposed use. If contamination makes it unsuitable for the proposed use, the land must be remediated before it can be developed. SEPP55

  • makes remediation permissible
  • defines when consent is required
  • requires all remediation to comply with standards
  • ensures land going through the development consent process is investigated if contamination is suspected
  • requires councils to be notified of all remediation proposals

SEPP 55 Guidelines

The SEPP 55 Guidelines aim to manage land contamination through the planning and development process. They provide advice to planning authorities on

  • early identification of contaminated sites
  • consideration of contamination in rezoning and development applications
  • recording and use of information
  • ways to prevent contamination and reduce the environmental impact of remediation activities. 

Section 10.7 certificates

The SEPP 55 Guidelines contain information on the use of section 10.7 certificates under the EP&A Act. Section 10.7(2) planning certificates must record that the land is

  • declared significantly contaminated by the EPA under the CLM Act
  • subject to management order issued by the EPA under the CLM Act
  • subject to an approved voluntary management proposal
  • subject to an ongoing maintenance order
  • subject of a site audit statement

Councils may also use section 10.7(5) certificates to record other information for anything other information about contamination which the local council deems appropriate.

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