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In general terms contaminated land refers to land contaminated by hazardous substances (such as pesticides, heavy metals or hydrocarbons) which may pose a risk to human health and/or the environment.

Land in the Tweed Shire area has been and currently is being used for a great variety of purposes which in some situations may have caused the land to become contaminated. Historically, industrial activities, agricultural activities and commercial activities all have the potential to contaminate land.

Under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act), the Office of Environment and Heritage regulates contaminated sites that pose a significant risk of harm to human health or the environment.

Contaminated sites that are not regulated by the OEH are managed by local councils through land use planning processes.

Tweed Shire Council is required by legislation to consider whether land is contaminated and as part of the Development Application process, council requires applicants to provide information about contamination in respect to their proposed developments. This information is often provided as part of the Statement of Environmental Effects or by the provision of specific contaminated land reports. The Applicant is required to address issues such as previous and current land uses and activities on the site and adjoining sites as well as any known contamination of the land and details of any contamination investigation reports or remediation works that have occurred on the land.

There are a number of guidelines that have been produced which provide guidance in respect to the investigation of land contamination within NSW as well as specific legislation such as State Environmental Planning Policy No. 55 Remediation of Land and the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.

Tweed Shire Council has developed a Policy in respect to Land Contamination which is currently under review. For further information in respect to Council’s Contaminated Land Policy contact councils Building and Environmental Health Unit.

Who to contact:

- Council’s Environmental Health Services (02) 6670 2400

Further information:

- Office of Environment and Heritage (external link)

- Tweed Shire Council Contaminated Land Policy (121kB PDF)


Various land parcels exist within Tweed Shire Council which have been the subject of historical sand mining activities, are in very close proximity to the Tweed Coast and are under private ownership. These land parcels may contain radioactive materials above relevant adopted Action Level Criteria which require investigation and possibly remediation before the land is subdivided or developed.

The current standard in NSW is the “Radiation Safety Information Series #12, Cleanup and Disposal of Radioactive Residues from Commercial Operations Involving Mineral Sands” (RSIS #12), Department of Health Radiation Branch, July 1984, which establishes maximum surface radiation levels.

Before the land can be developed investigation of possible radiation is required in accordance with Section 79C of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and State Environmental Planning Policy No. 55 – Remediation of Land (SEPP 55).

For the purpose of Clause 6(2)(b) of SEPP 55 above, ‘Metal mines’ and ‘mining and extractive industries’ are considered to be a ‘potentially contaminating activity’ as specified in Table 1 of the Planning Guidelines for Contaminated Land, DUAP 1995.

It may also be necessary to determine whether the materials of concern are classified as a hazardous material. This assessment is required to be completed in accordance with the Waste Classification Guidelines, the Office of Environment and Heritage and NSW (OEH) October 2008. Part 3 of the Guidelines states that materials must have a specific activity not exceeding 100 Becquerel's per gram to be considered non hazardous. Where materials exceed the nominated criteria, the assessment requirements under State Environmental Planning Policy No 33—Hazardous and Offensive Development would be triggered in the development assessment process.

The land owner has the land investigated (generally surface and depth levels) by a specialist environmental consultant. Where radiation levels exceed relevant criteria then the land is remediated (generally involving a process of mixing sand/soil materials until radiation levels are within relevant limits) and validated prior to development.

Council may require any site assessment, remediation action plan and site validation to be vetted by a NSW OEH accredited contaminated land auditor. Any person who wishes to develop land which may have been the subject of sand mining will need to consider this issue.
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