Contaminated land

In Taranaki, the vast majority of sites investigated for potential contamination show no evidence of contamination.

Those identified as having some risk have either been cleaned up, or are actively managed to ensure they don’t pose an unacceptable risk to the public or the environment.

What is a contaminated site?

Land is most often contaminated as the result of historical activities and industries when a lack of knowledge or appropriate legislation meant hazardous substances were inappropriately used, stored or disposed of.

Legislation introduced in 1990s means present day activities and industries are much less likely to lead to land contamination.

Importantly, the presence of contaminants at a site does not necessarily mean that land is unsuitable for use. A site is only categorised ‘contaminated’ if activity at the site would expose large number of users to unacceptably high risk. For example, sealing a potentially contaminated site for car parking virtually eliminates the risk of exposure for casual users.

How do we know?

Since the 1990s the Council has systematically identified and investigated possibly contaminated sites in the region, recording the information in the Register of Selected Land Uses (RSLU). Investigated sites include disused landfills, areas where in-ground fuel tanks were removed, ex-timber treatment plants and so on. Each site is assessed and classified in accordance with current guidelines. All investigations are included in the RSLU whether or not and evidence of contamination is found.

The Regional Council maintains the RSLU, updating information when it arises as part of our investigations, our regular monitoring and inspections programmes, and our responses to unauthorised incidents. Information also comes from consultants carrying out site investigations, and from property owners or members of the public.

Summary data is publicly available on this website. You can also find out more by using Taranaki Regional Explorer or by making a written request to the Council.

National standards

District councils must apply the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Manging Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (2011) when they receive a consent application for any of the following activities: subdivision, change of land use, significant earthworks, sampling the soil, or repairing/replacing underground fuel storage systems.

As part of the consent process, applicants must identify any area of potential contamination to the district council. The council may then require investigation and clean-up of the site as part of consent conditions. In Taranaki, district councils use the RSLU as the starting point when considering if such investigation is necessary.

Accessing site information

Sites on the RSLU database are identified on the Council’s website, through the GIS SmartMaps application. To determine whether  the Council holds any information regarding potential contamination of a particular property, simply open the Property Information map, select the 'Selected Land Use' option in the Layer List, then zoom and pan to the area of interest.

Open the SmartMaps Property Information Map(external link)

If further details are required, a written request can be made to the Taranaki Regional Council.

Postal address: Private Bag 713 Stratford 4352

The information request should be labelled 'Selected land use enquiry' and include the following information:

  • Name, address and contact phone number of the person making the enquiry.
  • 'Land use number' of the property.
  • At least two methods of identifying the site - eg. address, legal description, certificate of title number, valuation/assessment number.

Please note that under Section 15 of the Official Information Act 1982 the Council will provide the requested information as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any case not later than 20 working days after the day on which the request is received.

A charge may be applied for time-consuming requests.