South Australia introduces site contamination assessment into the planning system

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