Significant changes to the way in which contaminated land is managed in Queensland are expected to commence on 30 September 2015. These changes will affect land owners, developers and consultants involved the investigation, management or clean up of contamination under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act).

Contaminated land reforms

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) has announced that legislative amendments to the EP Act that were passed by the former Queensland Parliament in 2014 but are yet to come into effect are now expected to commence on 30 September 2015.

Mandatory auditor certification

Once the amendments to the EP Act take effect, it will be mandatory for contaminated land documents, including site investigation reports, validation reports and draft site management plans, to be certified by an approved auditor before being submitted to the DEHP.

Approved auditors will be responsible for ensuring that contaminated land investigation documents meet the standard required to achieve good environmental outcomes. The auditor’s certification must verify that the contaminated land investigation document has met regulatory content requirements, including a statement of uses or activities for which the site is suitable.

The changes to the EP Act are intended to complement previous changes made to the Sustainable Planning Regulation that require a compliance permit from an approved auditor to carry out specific high risk land use changes on contaminated land.

Preparation of contaminated land investigation documents

Land owners or developers will still need to engage ‘suitably qualified persons’ (SQP) to prepare contaminated land investigation documents and guidance material is to be developed for suitably qualified persons to assist them to comply with the new requirements.

A suitably qualified person, who is also an approved auditor, cannot evaluate and certify their own work.

Role of DEHP

DEHP will continue to decide on draft site management plans which have been certified by an approved auditor and manage the Environmental Management Register (EMR) and Contaminated Land Register (CLR) under the EP Act.

Approved auditors

There are currently 17 auditors approved by DEHP and their details can be accessed at

https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/contaminated-land/auditing/