Bick & Steele: Expert legal advisers - contaminated land


In NSW, contaminated land is regulated under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) which is administered by the EPA.

The CLM Act provides the EPA with powers to declare and regulate significantly contaminated land. For example, the EPA can issue orders requiring that contaminated land be remediated or can sign off on voluntary proposals to address contamination.

The CLM Act creates a hierarchy of responsibility for polluters. The person who caused the contamination is at the top, followed by the owners of contaminated land, and then the 'notional' owners of the land (such as a mortgagee in possession). The CLM Act also imposes a duty on persons to notify the EPA of contamination in certain circumstances.

Planning authorities are also obliged to consider the contamination status of land, including whether the land is suitable (or can be made suitable by remediation) for the proposed use of the land under State Environmental Planning Policy No 55 - Remediation of Land (SEPP 55).

Legal action in relation to land contamination can also be brought under the common law. For example, landowners whose land is affected by pollution or contamination emanating from a neighbours property, may have an action in private nuisance or in negligence.

How we can help

Based in Sydney, we assist clients across NSW to resolve complex legal issues in relation to contaminated land. At Bick & Steele, we can help you by:

  • advising on the sale of contaminated land (including the allocation of environmental risk in contracts for the sale of land and other transaction documents);

  • advising on risks associated with purchasing or leasing a contaminated site;

  • advising on the redevelopment of a contaminated site;

  • advising on the duty to report contamination to the EPA under Section 60;

  • assisting with any orders made by the EPA including a preliminary investigation order, management order and ongoing maintenance order;

  • advising on and assisting with the development of a Voluntary Management Proposal (VMP);

  • advising on your rights and obligations in relation to contaminated land under the CLM Act and at common law;

  • advising and representing you in relation to offences and regulatory action under the CLM Act;

  • representing you in legal proceedings and appeals in relation to contaminated land (including cost recovery proceedings);

  • advising on your rights and obligations to deal with land contamination under SEPP 55; and

  • advising you on the procurement of a Site Audit Statement for your proposed development.

Our experience

Examples of projects with respect to which our Directors have demonstrated their experience advising on these matters can be found here.

Contact us

To see how we can help you, please contact us.