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National Environment Standard

National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health

At the start of this year The Ministry for the Environment introduced the new National Environmental Standard (NES) for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health came into force. 

This NES relates to land which is actually or potentially contaminated either from an activity or industry on the Hazardous Activities or Industries List (HAIL) or where a HAIL activity is likely to have been undertaken on that land. 

This NES comes in to effect whenever there is change of use of the land (i.e. subdivision, building consent or land use) and where a HAIL activity is more likely than not to have been undertaken. 

Previous activities which would likely trigger a requirement for a report would include:

  • Chemical (including Agrichemical) manufacture, application and bulk storage
  • Petroleum Hydrocarbon Industry
  • Electrical & electronic works, power generation & transmission
  • Explosive & ordinance production, storage & use
  • Timber Treatment
  • Mineral extraction, refining & reprocessing, storage & use
  • Cemeteries & waste recycling, treatment and disposal
     

The main objective of the preliminary site investigation is to provide background information in support of the suitability of the site for its intended use and will determine whether a detailed site investigation is necessary. 

The initial assessment is the responsibility of the owner and does not need to be carried out by a suitably qualified and experienced practitioner but in certain situations may be advisable.

This preliminary investigation may include a site work-over (but does not usually involve soil sampling), searching of historical aerial photography and relevant records (certificates of title, trade/land use…). 

Should a report be required then this report must be prepared by a suitably qualified and experienced practitioner, such as Chartered Professional Engineers or Certified Environmental Practitioners with demonstrated contaminated land experience.

If the land is contaminated then the land will either need to be remediated or if that is not practical then the owner might be better not changing the current use. 

This is one more matter for our client’s to consider when looking to develop or change how they use their land.  For further information please contact us or visit the MfE site:

http://www.mfe.govt.nz/laws/standards/contaminants-in-soil/