NSW site auditor scheme

How to find an accredited site auditor to check work done by contaminated land consultants.

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 (Resilience and Hazards) 2021 (Resilience and Hazards SEPP) 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 (PDF 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 999 KB) 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 2021, the application fee for accreditation as a site auditor is $1,199 and the accreditation fee for a period one year or less is $8,377. See the 2021 adjustable amounts notice (PDF 18KB).

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).

Accreditation Panel

The functions of the Accreditation Panel are:

  1. to make recommendations to the EPA regarding the suitability of an applicant for accreditation, and
  2. to provide such other advice to the EPA as the EPA may request.

The Accreditation Panel is constituted under section 49 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (the Act) and is to consist of 4 or more members appointed by the EPA, each having appropriate technical expertise, of whom at least:

  1. one is to be an officer of the EPA who is to be appointed by the EPA as the Chairperson, and
  2. one is to be a representative of community environmental groups appointed on the nomination of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW Incorporated, and
  3. one is to be a representative of industry, and
  4. one is to have tertiary qualifications in a discipline relevant to the contamination of land.

Accreditation Panel selection process

The selection process for appointing panel members is in general accordance with the requirements set out in the Public Service Commission Appointment Standards: Boards and Committees in the NSW Public Sector July 2013, and includes:

  • Seeking of applications from suitably qualified and experienced candidates, taking into account statutory requirements for the panel composition, together with the essential skills required for all panel members, including the capacity to think critically, be objective and be able to understand and manage conflicts of interest.
  • Applications may be sought by:
    • advertising on the EPA website or in an EPA newsletter/s
    • contacting relevant industry groups, professional associations, EPA’s (or equivalent) in other jurisdictions which have auditor schemes
    • receiving nominees from a specified group or organisation, e.g. Nature Conservation Council (a member of which is stipulated in the CLM Act).
  • Assessment of applications of prospective panel members, taking into consideration the principles of merit, fairness, diversity and integrity. 
  • Formal approval by the CEO, to fill a panel vacancy.
  • Appointment of panel members, based on the skills, knowledge and experience of the candidates to fulfil the functions of the accreditation panel as set out in Section 49 of the CLM Act.

Panel members are generally appointed for a 3-year term, which will be specified in their notice of appointment, but are eligible for re-appointment. The panel members will be identified to interested applicants at the briefing session at the commencement of each accreditation round.

Accreditation Panel composition

Member Role

Statutory requirements for panel composition

- Section 49 of the CLM Act

Chair – EPA Director Environmental Solutions – Chemicals, Land and Radiation

Section 49(2)(a) one [panel member] is to be an officer of the EPA who is to be appointed by the EPA as the Chairperson

Community group representative

Section 49(2)(b) one [panel member] is to be a representative of community environmental groups appointed on the nomination of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW Incorporated

Industry representative

Section 49(2)(c) one [panel member] is to be a representative of industry

Representative with relevant tertiary qualifications

Section 49(2)(d) one is to have tertiary qualifications in a discipline relevant to the contamination of land

EPA representative from team that administers the auditor scheme

No statutory requirement

Representative from another jurisdiction with a contaminated land site auditor scheme who has experience in administering that scheme.

(Dependent on another jurisdiction agreeing to nominate a suitable officer to join the panel.)

No statutory requirement

Representative with auditor experience

(Dependent on an individual with the relevant experience being identified which does not have a conflict of interest.)

No statutory requirement

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).

Applicants must complete and lodge the the mutual recognition application notice (DOCX 52KB) and declaration form (DOC 51KB) with the EPA.

Automatic mutual recognition of site auditors accredited in other states does not currently apply in NSW.

Site auditor meetings

The EPA holds meetings for all accredited site auditors twice a year.

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