Contaminated land

Land is considered to be contaminated when there are any hazardous substances present that could pose a threat to human health or the environment.

Where hazardous substances have been used, stored or disposed of in an unsafe manner, the soil can become contaminated.  In the past, the use of hazardous substances was not as well-controlled as it is today. Sometimes this contamination is still present many years after a land use has ceased.

How is potentially contaminated land identified?

We use a database - the Selected Land Use Sites (SLUS) Register - to manage information about land in the Southland region that is, or has been, associated with the use, storage or disposal of hazardous substances.

We have many ways of identifying potentially contaminated land:

  • The Ministry for the Environment produces a list called the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) which helps us identify situations where hazardous substances could cause land and water (surface water and groundwater) contamination. The list includes land uses such as fuel storage sites, service stations, timber treatment yards, landfills and sheep dips.
  • We research historic records such as council files, trade directories and aerial photographs to identify land and record it in our database.
  • We also receive information from other sources, such as environmental site investigation reports submitted to us as a requirement of the Regional Plan, and in resource consent applications.

For more information, download the Selected Land Use Sites Information Booklet.

How accurate is the information on the SLUS Register?

We have made every effort to ensure we have accurately identified the location, extent and relevant information about each hazardous land use site.

We are confident we have found the majority of sites that are able to be identified in this way. However, we always update the SLUS Register when new information comes to hand.  If a property isn't currently on the SLUS Register, it doesn't necessarily mean it hasn't been used for a hazardous activity or industry.

It is worth noting that hazardous substances were not always used or stored on all sites occupied by each activity or industry. However, such activities and industries are more likely to use or store hazardous substances and  therefore there is a greater probability of site contamination occurring.

Conversely, an activity or industry that does not appear on the list does not guarantee such a site will not be contaminated.

For more information, download the Selected Land Use Sites Information Booklet.

What if I believe my land has been wrongly included on the SLUS Register?

It is important our records are accurate. If you have information, such as a preliminary site investigation or other records that clearly show your property has not had a past hazardous activity, or if other hazardous activities have occurred which we have not listed, please let us know so we can verify this. You can contact us here.

If we have incorrectly identified a hazardous activity or industry on your property, it will no longer be listed as potentially contaminated.

Once we have verified it has not been used for an activity on the Hazardous Activities and Industries List, we will retain this information on file so we can ensure that the same site is not re-identified in the future.

If you have your soil tested, it is important that you get the help of someone who is qualified and experienced to do that sort of investigation. Once they have prepared a report of the results of the investigation, you will need to provide that to us so we can update the Listed Land Use Register record to show that your land is no longer potentially contaminated.

How is the information used?

Most of our inquiries come from potential property buyers (or their lawyers), or from environmental consultants and engineers working on sites.

We also use the information to prioritise sites for further investigation, management and remediation, to aid with planning and to help assess resource consent applications. These are some of our responsibilities under the Resource Management Act.

City and district councils in Southland can access the information too when assessing resource consent applications under the Resource Management Act or Building Act.

Is the information recorded on my LIM?

The information on our Selected Land Use Sites Register is not automatically or routinely added to LIMs by councils or district councils.  They may choose to include information on the LIM, particularly if there has been an investigation, site management or remediation undertaken at the site. Check with your local council if you want to find out more about LIMs.

Will the value of my house decrease because my property has been listed on the SLUS Register?

The value of your house is dependent on a number of different factors, and there is no firm evidence that being on the Listed Land Use Register will affect the value of your property.  We recommend you talk to a registered valuer. You can find details of these in the Yellow Pages.

It is important that you let a tenant or buyer know your land is on the Selected Land Use Sites Register if you intend to rent or sell your property. If you are not sure what you need to tell the other party, you should seek legal advice.  

Is asbestos included on the SLUS Register?

The manufacture and disposal of asbestos products including sites with buildings containing asbestos products known to be in a deteriorated condition is a listed hazardous activity.

We only include sites on the Selected Land Use Sites Register where we know asbestos disposal has occurred, or where there is asbestos confirmed to be in a deteriorated condition.

For more information on asbestos, please check the Ministry of Health website www.health.govt.nz keyword search 'asbestos'.‚Äč

Factsheets

More information

If you have questions, contact our pollution prevention team by email to service@es.govt.nz or freephone on 0800 76 88 45.

Page reviewed: 06 May 2016 4:03pm