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Executive Summary

This is the fourth in the Ministry for the Environment's Contaminated Land Management Guidelines series. The purpose of this guideline is to promote a practical, nationally consistent framework to assist local authorities to investigate and monitor contaminated land and manage the effects of land use. The guideline promotes best practice among local authorities for identifying and classifying sites, and for providing information to landowners and other interested parties.

After the introduction in chapter 1, chapter 2 provides a definition of contaminated land. The components of the information management system are described, including the use of a database or register, the principles of information management, and issues to consider when designing a data management system.

Chapter 3 outlines site classification and the Hazardous Activities and Industries List(the HAIL), published as Contaminated Land Management Guidelines Schedule A (Ministry for the Environment, 2004c). The HAIL highlights past and present activities involving hazardous substances. Sites associated with HAIL activities may warrant inclusion on a local authority register. Based on information available to local authorities, a site is classified according to its likely risk to people or adverse effects on the environment. Local authorities may then prioritise sites for further investigation or action. Site information may be provided to interested parties with an indication of the risk a particular site may pose.

The classification categories promoted in this guideline are:

  • land-use information
  • contaminated land
  • error.

These categories have been created to cover the general groupings that sites fall into, distinguishing between sites where the land-use history is known or there is some analytical information about the presence or absence of hazardous substances, but there is no evidence that the site is contaminated land as defined in the Resource Management Act 1991 ('land-use information'), and sites that have been confirmed as contaminated ('contaminated land'). The 'land-use information' category will include information specific to a site; for example, that the site has been remediated or is being managed.

In addition to explaining the categories, chapter 3 sets out the process for information verification and site owner notification. Guidance is provided on the level of information required to place sites within particular categories, recommendations for transferring sites from one category to another, an owner notification and consultation process, and suggestions for dealing with special circumstances such as large multi-title and subdivided sites. Essential information to be collected for each site is outlined, and an explanatory flow diagram of the verification, registration and site owner notification process is provided.

Chapter 4 addresses information release and describes scenarios where data might be transferred between parties, including Property and Land Information Memoranda.

Finally, chapter 5 provides recommendations for effective information management to promote fair, consistent and secure methods for data collection, storage, updates and release. The appendices include sample notification letters and information release formats.