The NSW site auditor scheme provides a pool of accredited 'site auditors' who can be engaged to review investigation, remediation, and validation work done by contaminated land consultants.
The scheme is administered by the EPA under Part 4 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act), with the aim to protect the environment and human health through proper management of contaminated land. The scheme improves public access to competent technical advice and provides increased certainty in the 'sign-off' of contaminated land assessments and remediation.
Role of site auditors
Accredited site auditors can be engaged to independently review contaminated land consultant reports to ensure the methods and interpretation of data are consistent with EPA guidance.
A site audit is a review that
- relates to management carried out in respect of the actual or possible contamination of land and
- is conducted for the purpose of determining any one of the following matters
- the nature and extent of any contamination of the land
- the nature and extent of any management of actual or possible contamination of the land
- whether the land is suitable for any specified use or range of uses
- what management remains necessary before the land is suitable for any specified use or range of uses
- the suitability and appropriateness of a plan of management, a long-term management plan, or a voluntary management proposal.
It is recommended that a site auditor is engaged at the beginning of the project, as early discussions can ensure sufficient work is done by the consultant. This can reduce potential delays for the site owner or developer.
For statutory site audits, a site auditor must notify the EPA using the site audit notification form (DOCX 45KB).
Site audit statement and report
The outcomes of a site audit are a
- site audit statement that outlines the conclusions of a site audit (see Site Audit Statement form (DOCX 52KB)). For statutory site audits, a site auditor must provide a copy of the site audit statement to the EPA and the local council.
- site audit report that summarises the information reviewed by the auditor.
Site auditing and the planning process
The scheme has an important role in decision-making by planning authorities. State Environmental Planning Policy 55 (SEPP55) requires planning authorities to consider the potential for contamination at a site (and adjacent sites) before planning decisions are made. For example, if land with a known or suspected history of potentially contaminating activities is planned to be redeveloped for a more 'sensitive' use, such as residential. Site auditors can provide increased certainty to planning authorities of the nature and extent of contamination and the suitability of a site for a specific use.
The Managing Land Contamination: Planning Guidelines - SEPP55 - Remediation of Land (219KB) states a site audit may be needed when the planning authority
- believes on reasonable grounds that the information provided by the proponent is incorrect or incomplete
- wishes to verify that the information provided by the proponent adheres to appropriate standards, procedures and guidelines
- does not have the internal resources to conduct its own technical review
Guidelines for the NSW Site Auditor Scheme
The Guidelines for the NSW Site Auditor Scheme (3rd edition 2017) (PDF 999KB) describes the duties of site auditors conducting a site audit and the administrative framework for the site auditor scheme.
The guidelines apply to site auditors conducting site audits and to people seeking accreditation to become a site auditor in NSW. They are also useful to people with an interest in contaminated land, such as contaminated land consultants and local councils, as guidance on what is expected of site auditors when engaging them or reviewing their work.
Accreditation of site auditors
From 1 September 2019, the application fee for accreditation as a site auditor is $1,159 and the accreditation fee for a period one year or less is $8,098. See the 2019 adjustable amounts notice (PDF 590KB).
Applications for accreditation as a site auditor are sought from qualified and experienced people approximately every three years, and are currently closed. Application requirements are based on Schedule B9 of the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 and are set out in the example application form (PDF 235KB).
Mutual recognition of site auditors
Auditors registered / accredited in another State can apply to be accredited in NSW in accordance with the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (Cth).