Development on contaminated land

Lake Macquarie has a long industrial past, including activities like coal mining, lead smelting, energy production and operation of a RAAF air base at Rathmines. These activities and other industrial uses have resulted in the contamination of a number of sites across the city. When developing on contaminated land, some additional requirements apply. It is important to understand how you may be impacted.

When assessing a development application, Council is required by State planning laws to consider whether the property is contaminated. If the property is contaminated, Council must ensure the property is suitable for its intended use or will be made suitable by remediation.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know if my property is affected by contamination?

Council maintains a database of contaminated properties in Lake Macquarie. Properties in Lake Macquarie can be assigned one of the following 'contamination notations':

  • Notation 1: Contaminated land 
  • Notation 2: Potentially contaminated land
  • Notation 3: Remediated and above contaminated land threshold
  • Notation 4: Remediated and below contaminated land threshold
  • Notation 5: Below contaminated land threshold 

You can use Council’s Property Enquiry Tool to view conditions that apply to a property, including the contamination notation. Contamination notations are listed under the “Minor Conditions” heading.

For more information, please refer to the Developing on contaminated land(PDF, 226KB) fact sheet.

What is required when developing on contaminated land?

When assessing a development application, Council is required by State planning laws to consider if the land is suitable, or if it can and will be made suitable, for the proposed development. In order to make this assessment, the planning laws outline the following stages for contamination assessment:

  • Preliminary Site Investigation 
  • Detailed Site Investigation 
  • Remedial Action Plan 
  • Validation Report 

If contaminants have been managed on-site, a Long Term Environmental Management Plan will also be required. Each of these stages will need to be completed by a suitably qualified contaminated land consultant. The NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides guidance for engaging a contaminated land consultant, including details of consultant certification schemes.

The PSI, DSI and RAP (if required), will typically need to be submitted in support of a development application. If the development is approved and remediation is required, a condition of consent will be included requiring the remediation works to be carried out during construction. An additional condition of consent will require the Validation Report and Long Term Environmental Management Plan to be completed prior to the issue of the occupation certificate.

For more information, please refer to Developing on contaminated land(PDF, 226KB) fact sheet.

Will my property's contamination notation change?

Council will update a contamination notation based on the findings of a report from a suitably qualified contaminated land consultant. If the information supports a change in notation to Notation 4 or 5, no further development restrictions will apply in relation to contaminated land.

If contaminated material has been managed onsite (e.g. in a containment cell), the property will be assigned Notation 3 and the property will be subject to the conditions of a Long-Term Environmental Management Plan.

What is a Standard Remedial Action Plan (RAP)?

The Standard Remedial Action Plan (Standard RAP) has been prepared by Council to simplify the development application (DA) process for development on residential land impacted by legacy contaminated from the former Pasminco Cockle Creek smelter.

The Standard RAP is a free template that streamlines the process for residential land contaminated by the smelter, reducing costs and allowing increased flexibility for the applicant. It applies to:

  • Residential properties in the Lead Abatement Strategy area that have been contaminated by lead oxide fallout
  • Residential properties in Lake Macquarie that have been contaminated by black slag

For more information, refer to the Using the Standard Remedial Action Plan (RAP) fact sheet(PDF, 407KB).

Lead Mitigation Grant Program

The Lead Mitigation Grant Program provides funding to eligible North Lake Macquarie residents who have been adversely impacted by lead contamination resulting from the former Pasminco Cockle Creek Smelter. To help facilitate improvement of the soil and support the community, the NSW Government has provided funding to assist with managing contaminated soil.

Learn more about Lead Mitigation Grants Program