Policy 1: Priorities for the Management of Contaminated Land
List and prioritise land uses that present significant risk of contamination and give priority to managing those with the greatest risk.
Policy 2: Significant Risks
For the purpose of Chapter 5.3 the significance of risks associated with a particular site will be assessed on the following basis:
- Any numerical standards provided by relevant nationally recognised guidelines.1
- In the absence of relevant national guidelines, numerical standards determined in other internationally recognised guidelines that are prepared using the same methodologies as those prepared by the Ministry for the Environment.
- The current or proposed land use and any restrictions on future uses of the site.
- The proximity of the land to sensitive ecosystems and the sensitivity of those ecosystems to the contaminants.
- The existence and characteristics of possible exposure pathways for the contamination.
- The level of contamination in soil and water at the site, potential for discharges to air and the characteristics of the contaminants.
- The degree and nature of discharges from the site.
- The geological nature and history of the site.
- Any archaeological sites, waahi tapu or other identified sites of significance to tangata whenua as Kaitiaki affected by discharges from the contaminated land.
- Any adverse effects on the relationship of tangata whenua as Kaitiaki with the land and water resources affected by the discharge from the contaminated land.
Policy 3: Remediation
Through rules in this Plan and resource consent processes, enable the remediation of contaminated land where the technology to be used and associated discharges are unlikely to have adverse effects that are inconsistent with the objectives or the requirements of the RMA.
Policy 4: High Priority Land Uses2 and Confirmed Contaminated Land
Ensure that any discharges from high priority land uses and confirmed contaminated land do not present a significant risk of adverse effects.
Policy 5: Other Potentially Contaminated Land
Ensure that resource users are aware of the risk associated with contaminated land and the steps required to manage these risks.
Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting the Policies
Policy 1 is necessary because the funds available for Waikato Regional Council to ensure that contaminated land is adequately managed are limited. Table 5-1 identifies the historical land uses generally associated with some degree of land contamination, due to past use (transport, storage or disposal) of hazardous substances and prioritise them on the basis of the risk that they pose.
This list was developed taking into account the following factors:
- The characteristics of the hazardous substances known, or likely, to have been used (or generated) for each category of land.
- Any generic characteristics of the land known to typify a particular category (e.g. typical location, degree of contamination typically found at such sites overseas).
Policy 2 provides clarification for landowners and decision-makers as to the means by which the significance of risks on contaminated land will be assessed. The standards to be used in determining whether risks are significant are to be based on the Ministry for the Environment’s pragmatic risk-based philosophy rather than other more prescriptive or precautionary standards such as those from Europe. The Policy recognises that even when national or international guidelines exist, they should not be followed exclusively. These guidelines tend to focus on human health risk rather than ecological risks and must be considered along with any site-specific factors that may either exacerbate or reduce the risks of contaminants.
Policy 3 acknowledges the positive effects of land remediation. The Plan enables a range of discharges likely to occur from contaminated land during land remediation through Rules 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52. The Policy indicates that, where a resource consent is required, Waikato Regional Council will take an enabling and positive approach to the consent process if discharges are unlikely to have adverse effects that are inconsistent with the objectives or the requirements of the RMA.
Policies 4 and 5 identify that Waikato Regional Council must focus its limited resources on managing high priority land uses and contaminated land.