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. Regional councils and territorial authorities have functions under the Resource Management Act, Sections 30 and 31 respectively, for the day-to-day management of contaminated land.
One of the councils’ roles is to give effect to the Resource Management (National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health) Regulations 2011 (NESCS).
The NESCS is a nationally consistent set of planning controls and soil contaminant values. It ensures that land affected by contaminants in soil is appropriately identified and assessed before it is developed - and if necessary, the land is remediated, or the contaminants contained to make the land safe for human use. The NESCS came into effect on 1 January 2012.
The MfE have put together a leaflet for landowners and developers here
Environment Southland’s Selected Land Use Sites Register (SLUS) is a publicly available database of those sites that have, or may have, been used for activities and industries from the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) – as established by the Ministry for the Environment. The HAIL activities are those that have the potential to cause contamination to land.
The SLUS register is held on behalf of the three Territorial Authorities in the Southland region; Southland District Council, Invercargill City Council, and Gore District Council.
How is potentially contaminated land identified?
We have many ways of identifying potentially contaminated land:
- The Ministry for the Environment’s Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) 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. View the HAIL List in the Ministry for the Environment Website http://www.mfe.govt.nz/land/hazardous-activities-and-industries-list-hail
- 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.
Further explanation of the HAIL and each of the categories in the SLUS database are provided in the SLUS information booklet. Download the Selected Land Use Sites Information Booklet.
How can I view the SLUS Register?
You can search a property on this website and immediately see whether the property is on the register.
If the site is shown to be on SLUS you can then request details of the information we hold for the property from Environment Southland. (email Facility Manager SLUS Query Email with the property address and SLUS number).
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. It is recommended that you contact Environment Southland for the most up to date information. 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.
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.
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.
What to do if I need my soil tested?
When undertaking earthworks, subdivision, or purchasing of a site on the SLUS register you are may be required to apply for a consent under the NESCS. It is advised that you engage a qualified environmental practitioner. ES keeps a list of local environmental practitioners who undertake site investigations. You can contact us here to receive this list. Depending on the circumstances of your query, a qualified environmental practitioner can provide advice around the regulations that will apply and are able to undertake site investigations if that is required.
If a site investigation is carried out then you will need to provide that to us so we can update the SLUS Register record to show whether your land is potentially contaminated or not.
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.
The Territorial Authorities 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 SLUS Register is not automatically or routinely added to LIMs by the Territorial Authorities. 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.
Historically, housing developments have used construction materials which contain heavy metals which can accumulate in the soil surrounding a building. For example, lead paint can flake off due to temperature changes and treated timber may leach into the curtilage if exposed to rainfall. The accumulation of these heavy metals can lead to the presence of contaminants in concentrations that are hazardous to human health.
When a buildings life comes to an end (e.g. through a fire or planned demolition) the waste material may not be suitable for disposal at an unlined landfill/cleanfill as heavy metals are prone to leaching into the groundwater. Waste material maybe be able to be amended with cement to bind the contaminants and inhibit leaching. A soil investigation exercise can confirm the concentration of heavy metals in the waste material, whether the leachability of the material requires cement amendment, and then determine the type of landfill that can accept the waste.
Historic construction practices also included the use of asbestos. 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'.
Sheep dip factsheets
- Factsheet - Sheep Dip - Arsenic (PDF, 272.6KB)
- Factsheet - Sheep Dip - Landowner & Occupier Checklist (PDF, 864.7KB)
- Factsheet - Sheep Dip - Organochlorine Pesticides (PDF, 219.5KB)
- Factsheet - Sheep Dips in New Zealand (PDF, 955.4KB)
Contaminated land factsheets
- Factsheet - Contaminated Land - Are you undertaking these activities? (PDF, 1.6MB)
- Factsheet - Contaminated Land - Buying or selling a property (PDF, 1.2MB)
- Factsheet - Contaminated Land - Carrying out earthworks (PDF, 1.4MB)
- Factsheet - Contaminated Land - Subdividing or changing land use (PDF, 1.1MB)
- Factsheet - NES - Assessing and Managing contaminants in soil to Protect Human Health (PDF, 171.7KB)
If you have questions, contact our pollution prevention team by email to email@example.com or freephone on 0800 76 88 45.