Proposed amendments to the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health

The Government is amending the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (NESCS) and the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL). This page has information on the proposed amendments.

Timing of the proposed amendments

We are making good progress, but have revised our earlier timeline for completing the amendments. We are aiming for the updated regulations to be gazetted in early 2018. This gives us time to develop and test the revised regulations and supporting material with a focused group of stakeholders. This group will be tasked with checking that the regulations work in practice and achieve the policy objective.

Purpose of the proposed amendments

The overall objective of the amendments is to ensure the NESCS is better targeted to reduce risks to human health. This is ‘to ensure that land affected by contaminants in soil is appropriately identified and assessed at the time of being developed and if necessary remediated, or the contaminants contained to make the land safe for human use.’

The proposed amendments address all four parts of the NESCS framework.

  • Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL)
  • Nationwide set of planning controls
  • Requirements for undertaking and assessing site investigations and reports
  • Nationwide soil contaminant standards for 12 priority contaminants.

Background to the proposed amendments

The proposals for amending the NESCS and HAIL were released for public consultation between September and October 2016.

They were based on the findings of the 2014-15 interim review. The review found that the NESCS had decreased the likelihood that sites which would later pose an unacceptable risk to human health would be developed. However, the review identified several areas where the implementation of the NESCS framework could be more efficient. 

See Interim review of the NESCS: Summary report.

Read the consultation document for information on the proposed amendments.

See the two page summary of the proposed amendments.

Supporting documents

The draft Contaminated Land Management Guidelines 1 and 5 have been updated based on the submissions received in March 2016. 

We released the draft revised guidelines as they assist with understanding the proposed amendments to the NESCS. There may be further minor changes to the guidelines as a result of the consultation on the proposed amendments.

The final revised guidelines are planned to be gazetted in early 2018. Until then, the 2011 version of Contaminated Land Management Guidelines 1 and 5 are the ‘current editions’ for NESCS purposes. We will provide for a transitional period before the new versions of these guidelines are gazetted to allow for investigations currently being undertaken.

Find out more

For more information on the proposed amendments see:

Reviewed:
06/07/17