** AEA celebrates Earth Day 22-04-2021 **
After many years of reviews, workshops and stakeholder engagement, consideration of site contamination has finally been formally embedded into the new planning system. South Australia’s new Planning and Design Code came into effect recently in metropolitan areas of SA (as of 19 March 2021). This is the 3rd and final phase of state-wide changes to the planning system introduced via the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (PDI Act). The new legislative framework will result in referrals to the EPA for development applications involving a change of land use to a more sensitive use where certain classes of potentially contaminating activities previously existed on the site. The purpose of the reforms are to: Safeguard community health by providing a consistent State-wide planning approach to site contamination assessment Specify site contamination assessment steps that must be taken when a change to a more sensitive land use is proposed (including an application for land division) Ensure that site contamination investigations are consistent with the risk-based National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999, and Ensure that land is suitable, or will be made suitable, for its intended use where a more sensitive land use is proposed. Benefits of the new system include: ensuring the health of the community is more effectively protected by ensuring that site contamination is adequately investigated according to the level of risk protecting the value of residential properties from the adverse impacts of retrospective identification of site contamination, and providing clarity and certainty to developers about when site contamination will be assessed, what DA information is required to be submitted, when an EPA referral is required and limiting the circumstances that a site contamination audit is required to higher risk proposals. One of AEA’s SA EPA site contamination auditors, Jean-Paul Pearce, sits on the advisory panel and can help developers, planners, councils, contractors and anyone else involved in the property development industry to explain the process, provide advice and answer any questions. Furthermore, EPA will deliver online and face-to-face training during April 2021. Links below for more information and further reading… Practice Direction 14: Site Contamination Assessment 2021 PlanSA Resources Site Contamination Assessment fact sheet
Yes, you’ve heard correctly. The rumours are true. Nick Simmons has joined the AEA team. We kick off 2021 with the exciting announcement that Nick is AEA’s newest Principal Technical Specialist (Landfills). He has come over from EPA Victoria to become a valuable expert for our clients. He complements our landfill team and expands our existing capability. Nick brings over 16 years of experience and extensive knowledge encompassing all elements of landfill sites, including applied environmental science & risk assessment related to landfill siting, landfill operations, landfill gas, leachate, landfill aftercare and developing land around landfills (incl. buffer zones). Coming from a regulatory background, Nick authored and contributed to all of EPA Victoria’s landfill guidance documents. He has provided high-level technical advice and scientific reviews to peak industry bodies, government agencies, environmental auditors and international partners. His insight and expertise is a valuable asset that we encourage anyone to tap into. He will undoubtedly add value to your landfill-related projects and serve as a technical specialist in expert witness cases. You can get in touch with Nick on 0423 340 732.
It is with great honour and tribute that we announce the resignation (and impending retirement) of one of Victoria’s most respected and experienced auditors, Richard Wolfe. Richard was one of the original auditors to be independently appointed by EPA Victoria in the early 1990s. He has maintained his appointment and dedication to protecting human health and the environment for over 25 years! During his stellar career, Richard has overseen some of Australia’s largest developments and contamination clean-ups with involvement in more than 100 statutory and non-statutory audits, and has just about ‘seen it all’. He has served as Technical Advisor for Defence sites across Australia and undertaken significant study tours in the US and Netherlands to assess emerging technologies. He has contributed to positive legislation changes and reviewed various interpretations of the audit guidelines. Richard was seen as one of the “tough” auditors. Instead of resolving things to 80% he goes the whole way with his pedantic “get it right or get it right” attention to detail. Through Richard’s knowledge, experience and being an all-round good person, he has earned profound respect from his peers and from clients (through saving them money and reducing stress), and EPA has held him in high esteem. Whilst the industry has lost a legend, Richard has offered his continued wealth of environmental wisdom to our AEA team as a mentor. Richard, congratulations on a successful and impressionable career. We wish you the best in your future retirement years. (Richard Wolfe pictured third from the left)
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Our independent, regulatory-appointed environmental auditors offer diversity across the country. Potential or known contaminated sites, operational or closed landfill sites, expert witness, high-end mining rehabilitation advice or experienced technical project insights. Get in touch with us today to have a chat or ask for advice about your current or upcoming projects.
Shandel is officially a DWER accredited Contaminated Sites Auditor in WA! She has persisted, worked so hard and endured the stress and pressure to achieve this well-earned career goal. This is a huge highlight for Shandel and the AEA team are proud of her achievement. Congratulations!
Join us in congratulating Kevin Masterton on his appointment as a contaminated land auditor in Victoria!! Kev’s impressive background in environmental engineering and science, together with hard work and commitment, has now earned him accreditation in both VIC and QLD. Your dedication and passion is inspiring. On behalf of the AEA team, congratulations on a deserving appointment.
Nine tips for developers to consider to help minimise liability and manage unknowns: Choosing the right consultant and auditor can “make or break” your project. If you get an audit quote for as little as $10k, expect variations. This can blow-out, so make sure you carefully evaluate the scope of the audit that has been costed. Audit the auditor. If an audit has been triggered, ask for similar case studies from the auditor and examples of where they have assisted the client and provided timely pragmatic advice. Be prepared if your design plans have to change to suit environmental requirements. Site investigations and results may take a while; the sooner you start testing the more the likelihood to meet your project timeline. Don’t delay the inevitable. Engage the auditor before you start site assessments to avoid unnecessary re-testing. Choose an auditor who has a good working relationship with the consultant as this will reduce time and interaction issues between them. Factor in a contingency cost for unforeseen environmental issues. A “just in case” fund. Don’t get stuck in the “it won’t affect me” bubble. We have seen this many times. It’s smart to conduct due diligence before purchasing the site, no matter what.
Common mistakes developers make Often the environment is one of those distant factors you don’t think of first when purchasing a property. In some cases, an after-thought. This could be a hugely costly mistake and one that isn’t considered until you’re in the thick of it. The location is spot on, the market is ideal and the timing is perfect. Sounds too good to be true. Maybe it is. Consider your due diligence of the site and make sure you know what you’re buying and what you’ll be up for. Contaminated sites can be some of the most lucrative assets when managed correctly. It is important to understand your environmental exposure before and during acquisitions, transactions and construction. Types of potentially contaminated sites include the following: Service stations Market gardens Drycleaners Automotive and engine workshops Manufacturing workshops Landfills Quarries Gasworks Timber preservation and tanneries Rifle ranges Abattoirs Airports Railway yards Cattle dips Before you purchase a site It’s good practice to engage an environmental consultant to conduct an environmental due diligence (desktop study) to assess for potential risk of soil or groundwater contamination prior to purchasing a site. This is also known as a Preliminary Site Investigation or a Phase 1. This is a relatively cheap way to find out potential risks at the site and will help you make an informed decision. A Phase 1 covers such things as: What was the site historically used for? Is there an environmental audit overlay or a planning condition? What is the potential environmental liability and potential engagement with the EPA? What are the potential cost requirements? What are the clean-up, damages and business risks? Moving ahead with your purchase If purchasing a suspected contaminated site, you need to understand the extent of contamination issues and factor this into your budget for assessment (Detailed Site Investigation), potential remediation and auditing. We recommend you choose a consultant that is a Certified Environmental Practitioner (CEnvP) for the assessment/testing and remediation to give comfort that the scope of work proposed is appropriate and will survive scrutiny. Most developers factor in an environmental consultant, but many are surprised to find out they will likely also need to consider an environmental auditor. What’s the difference between a Consultant and an Auditor? The consultant undertakes the physical sampling, assessment, remediation and management plans to then provide to the auditor for verification. Environmental auditors are appointed by a regulating state government body (such as EPA) and are highly qualified and skilled individuals who have met strict criteria and guidelines. An auditor is independent and accountable to the EPA for verifying that the consultant’s findings are in accordance with the guidelines, and ultimately assists in “lifting” planning restrictions and deciding if the intended use of the site is suitable. The environmental consultant cannot be the auditor at the same site as this would be seen as a conflict of interest – like marking your own homework. What would trigger an Environmental Audit? An Environmental Audit may be required when: you are redeveloping a potentially contaminated site to a more sensitive use (e.g. from a former petrol station to residential or a childcare centre); you are developing land that is covered by an Environmental Audit Overlay; there is a planning permit requirement relating to a site located in a landfill buffer zone; it is requested by local council as a condition in your development application; you are wanting to assist in reducing future risk and understand potential contamination management measures (due diligence); EPA requests to understand the risk of harm caused by an activity; or compliance is to be demonstrated with a regulatory licence. Can an auditor add value? Experienced auditors can add value by providing advice prior to purchasing a site to point out any environmental liabilities and potentially avoid or minimise ongoing financial costs. When you engage an auditor early in the process you can save on time and costs associated with investigations, avoiding unnecessary re-work. The auditor can help guide you from the start. Auditors can also offer creative ways to manage issues that pose a potential threat to human health and the environment. For example, methods of vapour intrusion ventilation in a basement carpark of a multi-storey residential apartment. Additionally, auditors interact with the many stakeholders and understand the processes and legislation to help move things along quickly and effectively. What do I need to consider when appointing an Auditor? Auditors are a key part of the development approval process and careful consideration should be exercised in appointing the right auditor. Each auditor is different as they come with varying experiences and areas of expertise. Whilst they all try to enforce and uphold the same rules, regulations and practices, matching an auditor’s experience and/or area of expertise with the project is typically beneficial. Experience, communication, outcome-focused, integrity, quality; these are qualities that form a good, reliable auditor. Don’t get caught out Choosing the right consultant and auditor can “make or break” your project. If you get an audit quote for as little as $10k, expect variations. This can blow-out, so make sure you carefully evaluate the scope of the audit that has been costed. Audit the auditor. If an audit has been triggered, ask for similar case studies from the auditor and examples of where they have assisted the client and provided timely pragmatic advice. Be prepared if your design plans have to change to suit environmental requirements. Site investigations and results may take a while; the sooner you start testing the more the likelihood to meet your project timeline. Engage the auditor before you start site assessments to avoid unnecessary re-testing. Choose an auditor who has a good working relationship with the consultant as this will reduce time and interaction issues between them. Factor in a contingency cost for unforeseen environmental issues. A “just in case” fund. Don’t get stuck in the “it won’t affect me” bubble. We have seen this many times. It’s smart to conduct due diligence before purchasing the site, no matter what. Author: Phil Hitchcock and Tanya Thake This article is republished from Urban.com.au under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.