In Melbourne, some of the best commercial real estate on the market is considered to be contaminated land. A site is considered to be contaminated when the beneficial uses for a particular category of land use are precluded by contaminants. If properly managed, contaminated sites can be incredibly lucrative for owners and developers. However, before investing, it’s important to have a strong understanding of the terms and legislation which play a key role in this area of the property market. Below are 6 of the terms owners need to understand when developing or investing in contaminated sites.
Environmental Protection Act 1970
The legal framework designed to protect Victoria’s environment through the statutory authority known as the EPA. The scope of the act encompasses air, water and land pollution in Victoria as well as noise emissions.
State Environment Protection Policy (Prevention and Management of Contamination of Land) 2002
Known as the SEPP, this is a complimentary piece of legislation to the Environmental Protection Act. It details how contaminated land in Victoria needs to be remediated and managed, as well as how contamination can be prevented in the first place.
Priority Sites Register
This is a list of sites maintained by the EPA. It lists all contaminated sites that the body has issued a clean-up or pollution abatement notice to, due to the unacceptable risk they pose to the environment or human health.
Pollution Abatement Notice
This is a notice issued by the EPA to an occupier who is engaging in activities which are likely to cause pollution or an environmental hazard. This notice is only issued if the cost of compliance is estimated to be under $50,000 and can require an occupier to cease activities, modify their processes, or begin monitoring and reporting program.
Environmental liability refers to the party liable for cleaning up and managing a contaminated site. In Victoria, the environmental liability of a site is based upon the principle of ‘polluter pays’. However, the current owner of the site is considered to be the primary polluter unless they can prove otherwise.
Industrial Waste Management Policy
Waste management policies are specific measures introduced to the Environmental Protection Act to ensure different types of industrial waste are properly managed.
Alpha Environmental specialise in environmental consulting around Melbourne and offer a range of services designed to help contaminated site owners and developers manage their legal obligations. To learn more about our capabilities, please call us on 9415 8002.