The Resources Management (National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health) Regulations 2011 (the NESCS) establishes a requirement that preliminary and detailed site investigations be performed under the direction of and certified by a suitably qualified and experienced practitioner (SQEP).
Council has the discretion under the NESCS to decide who it considers to be suitably qualified to prepare the reports.
When the NESCS was first released Council maintained a list of Council approved Environmental Consultants known as the SQEP List. However, in January 2017, Council removed the SQEP list and replaced it with information on 'choosing a consultant'. This occurred as there were problems with people requesting to be put on the list and confirming they were SQEP, but Council had no way to certify that they were suitably qualified.
At that time Council decided that those that had an Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) Certification of Environmental Practitioner-Contaminated Land Specialist (CEnvP) qualification, would be considered. For consultants that did not have this certification, there was a one year transitional period (unless agreed otherwise) to allow them to gain certification, or show they are mostly through the process. Those not certified would be expected to have their reports signed off by a certified SQEP, until they gain the required expertise and certification.
Unfortunately, the uptake of this qualification in the subsequent years has not been as anticipated. Council recognises that there are many highly experienced contaminated land practitioners that have decided for a variety of reasons not to obtain this qualification. To ensure that there is sufficient availability of contaminated land SQEP’s to service the region, Council has updated the above policy.
As of July 2022, the Council’s preference will still be for practitioners with the EIANZ CEnvp Contaminated Land qualification, however Council will consider reports from practitioners without this qualification.
This is as long as they meet the following terms:
- That their reports meet the standards of the Contaminated Land Management Guidielines1 and 5 (Revised 2021) under the NESCS and;
- That these reports are accompanied by details of the practitioner’s contaminated land experience.
If practitioners’ experience is not provided, the Council may request this before any reports are processed and Council retains the discretion to reject reports that it believes do not meet the requirements under the NESCS.
Choosing a contaminated land consultant
A contaminated land consultant needs to be selected carefully. Potentially contaminated and contaminated sites typically present a wide range of issues that require a range of technical expertise and not all environmental consultants are suitably qualified to undertake all types of site assessment and investigation work.
There can be considerable time, economic and legal implications if a site investigation and/or remediation works do not meet the appropriate environmental, planning and reporting standards. Poor quality contaminated site reports usually result in further work at an additional cost. You can save time and money by selecting the consultant who is most appropriate for your needs and ensuring the service they provide is fit for purpose from the outset.
Please note that the Marlborough District Council cannot recommend specific consultants.
Where to find contaminated land consultants
To find a consultant you can search on the internet. The following keywords may be helpful: "Contaminated land consultant NZ"; "Contaminated land consultant Tasman Marlborough"; "SQEP consultant NZ"; or "SQEP consultant Tasman Marlborough".
The simplest place to start looking for a contaminated land consultant is under Professional bodies EIANZ, CEnvP. The list of available consultants is extensive, but not all of the consultants will have relevant experience or qualifications in contaminated site assessment and remediation. Contact people or businesses you know who have engaged a contaminated land consultant in the past and ask whether they can make a recommendation.
Selecting a contaminated land consultant
You might find it helpful to make a short list of potential consultants and request more than one quote. It is important to all parties that you have a clear definition of what you want them to achieve (eg; are you conducting due diligence, ascertaining whether it is safe to consume home grown vegetables, or trying to satisfy NESCS requirements for a subdivision proposal?). Gather as much background information as you can about the site regarding historical activities, potential contamination and previous practices. The better the background information you can provide, the more accurate the quotes are likely to be.
You might like to consider the following questions:
- Who will be working on my project? Do they have relevant skills and experience? Are they certified SQEP?
- Does the company have prior experience with similar sites and similar project purposes (eg; meeting regulatory requirements?)
- Does the company have sufficient public liability and professional indemnity insurance?
- Is the consultancy familiar with the local legislation (NES, District Plan, Regional Plan?) and national best practice guidelines?
- What are their health and safety procedures?
- What is the breakdown of costs and what might be potential additional costs?
- How long will the project take, including any field work, laboratory analysis, report writing and review?
Evaluate the contaminated land consultants
As well as evaluating quotes against cost, check that the consultant has a good understanding of the work required, that they have provided sufficient detail on how they will meet the purpose of the work and provide a detailed timeline.
Remember that if a report is not accepted by the relevant consenting/regulatory authority first time, it could cost additional time and money to rectify later and this will not be reflected in a quote.
Engaging your contaminated land consultant
Once you have selected a consultant, you'll want to come to an agreement about the services they will provide. Whether this be via written correspondence or a formal contract, make sure it is in writing and includes agreement on timeframes, cost, draft and final reports, insurance provisions for the job, document ownership etc.
You might also like to make provision for the consultant to forward the report directly to their contacts at the regulatory agencies if these relationships are already in place. Consultants may attach a standard contract to their proposal, but they will usually be prepared to negotiate if necessary. Ask your solicitor for advice if you are unsure.
Notes: Public liability insurance protects against unexpected and unintended personal injury or property damage and professional indemnity insurance provides protection against costs of negligent advice or services.
Disclaimer: Marlborough District Council has prepared this information to help businesses and individuals select a contaminated land consultant for contaminated site investigations and remediation. Marlborough District Council has prepared this information in good faith exercising all reasonable care and attention, but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made, and Marlborough District Council expressly disclaims any such representation or warranty that might be deemed to have been given, as to the relevance, accuracy, completeness, exhaustiveness, currency, suitability, reliability or fitness for purpose of this information in respect of any particular user's circumstances. Marlborough District Council reserves its right to make changes to this information at any time.