Regulation of contaminated land

The NT EPA administers the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998 (the Act) to ensure the persons responsible for causing contamination, undertake appropriate management and/or remediation work. Pollution of the environment has been an offence since 1998, when the Act came into force.

Where there is sufficient evidence, the NT EPA may prosecute the polluter, or require appropriate management or remedial actions via the issue of relevant instruments under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998.

The NT EPA may become aware of contaminated land via several different pathways, including:

  • Notification by other agencies.
  • Notification via ‘Duty to Notify’
  • Notification via the planning process.
  • Notification concerning a contaminated site where:
    • The proponent is seeking to remediate for a change in land use.
    • The proponent is seeking a land use change in an adjacent area.
    • Environmental impact has occurred because of the contamination (e.g. decommissioning of a fuel station).
  • Notification from an Environmental Impact Assessment process.
  • Notification from the findings of an investigation undertaken by someone other than the proponent.

When the NT EPA becomes aware of contaminated land, management is generally undertaken in accordance with the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998; or via an integrated approach shared with the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics (DIPL) in accordance with the Planning Act 1999.

Regulation via the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998

Where the NT EPA has reasonable grounds to believe land is contaminated, the NT EPA may require:

  • An Environmental Audit (Section 48 of the the Act) to be undertaken to determine the nature and extent of contamination;
  • Ongoing management or remedial action to be undertaken to manage or clean up contamination via a Pollution Abatement Notice (Section 77 of the Act)

It is an offence under the Act to not comply with the conditions, requirements or actions included in an Environmental Audit Notice or Pollution Abatement Notice.

Regulation via the Planning Act 1999

The NT EPA also manages the assessment of site contamination for sites that threaten to pose serious or material environmental harm, or harm to human health, through an integrated framework shared between the NT EPA and the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics (DIPL).

This integrated approach is led by DIPL through the land use planning and approvals process, with input requested from the NT EPA. DIPL may request an assessment of site contamination, or site audit statement as a condition of a Development Permit, in accordance with the Northern Territory Planning Act 1999 when there is a change of land use to a more sensitive use; and/or sensitive use subdivision and/or there is evidence of current and/or historical potentially contaminating activities.

This process is described in the Land Development and Assessments Flow Chart PDF (440.7 KB).

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