Land that has been contaminated by industrial and similar activities is often discovered at the time when the use of land changes, for example, when land use changes from industrial to residential use.
In most cases, this can be managed at the time when the change of land use occurs.
Management of contaminated land
The environmental audit system is legislated under the Environment Protection Act 2017. It provides for the appointment by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA Victoria) of environmental auditors who conduct independent environmental audits and preliminary risk screen assessments (PRSA).
Environmental audit reports must be prepared by an EPA Victoria appointed environmental auditor.
EPA Victoria administers the environmental audit system and ensures its ongoing integrity by:
- assessing auditor applications, and
- ensuring environmental audits and PRSA are independent and are carried out according to guidelines issued by EPA Victoria.
The purpose of a preliminary risk screen assessment (PRSA) is to:
- assess the likelihood of the presence of contaminated land; and;
- determine if an environmental audit is required; and
- if an environmental audit is required to recommend a scope for the environmental audit
An environmental audit assesses whether the use of the site is appropriate considering the level of contamination. The auditor will make one of the following three statements:
- the site is suitable for the purposes specified in the statement; or
- the site is suitable for the purposes specified in the statement if the recommendations made in the statement are complied with or
- the site is not suitable for the purposes specified in the statement at the time the statement was prepared.
Both a PRSA and environmental audit result in the issue of a formal statement and accompanying report which is publicly available on the EPA website.
Register of environmental audits issued within Victoria can be accessed through the EPA Victoria website.
The planning system plays an important part identifying potentially contaminated land. This process is guided by the planning and contaminated land regulatory framework which includes:
- Planning and Environment Act 1987
- Ministerial Direction No. 1 – Potentially Contaminated Land
- Planning Practice Note 30 Potentially Contaminated Land
- Victorian Planning Provisions
- Environment Protection framework
You can find out more about this framework at the Department of Transport and Planning - PPN30: Potentially contaminated land webpage.