What is the cost of an Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA) ?

As Environmental Consultants we cover Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane including the entire state of each of these capitals.  Anderson Environmental Pty Ltd provides a range of Environmental Assessment Services including Ecological Assessments.  We are often asked questions regarding the Environmental Site Assessment process in relation to Site Contamination.  Often clients have not undertaken a SEPP55 Preliminary Site Investigation (sometimes termed a Stage 1 or Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment) before and are trying to gain an understanding of the process and the cost and any other items that may come up or need to be covered as part of this process. Note that SEPP 55 is for NSW however all states in Australia use the National Environmental Protection Measure (NEPM).  Often a Contamination Report is requested by Council as part of a Development Application and/or rezoning.  These assessments are also sometimes undertaken for Due Diligence Real Estate Transactions such as purchase or lease changes and are often for clean-up of contaminated sites such as former Service Stations, Dry Cleaners, Industrial Sites or sites with dumped materials etc etc.

The most common question we receive relates to the Cost of a Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) or the more in depth Detailed Site Investigation (DSI). Here we examine the cost of the Preliminary Site Investigation and what it entails.

What is the cost of a Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) ?

This depends on a number of factors.  The size of the site along with its location, previous use and potential for a complex history both of the site itself and nearby sites are factors which impact the cost of the assessment.  Some sites comprise farms with a simple site history over many decades while other sites represent industrial sites with complex site histories and many differing neighbouring sites which need to be considered which may have resulted in contamination to the site being assessed. While there are no set guidelines in Australia as as to the distance from the subject site to which neighbouring sites should be assessed a generally accepted standard from North American guidelines is within a 250m radius from your site boundary.  The required search results from simple sites can result in 20 pages while more complex sites can result in a few hundred pages of background historical data.  Industrial sites with complex layouts and multiple buildings and industrial processes require considerable time for the on site assessment and often have large amounts of records to examine.  We consider the site and work required to undertake a compliant report when we provide clients with a price for a Preliminary Site Investigation.   This is important as very often the report has to be relied upon by councils to approve a development application and sometimes lenders for loan applications. For sellers having an up to date report for sites with potential historical contamination risks provides potential buyers with an instant appreciation of any potential risks with the purchase.  This often places the seller at an advantage over other sellers of commercial or rural property.

What does a Preliminary Site Investigation Cover?

A Preliminary Site Investigation is a detailed review of the history of a site (using a combination of sources including aerial photos, governmental records, site walkovers and detailed site inspections, interviews, review of previous site and nearby reports, and other available information). This role of the PSI is to identify Areas of Potential Environmental Concern (APECs) which are parts of the site that may have environmental issues which may have resulted in contamination.  It also examines other sites nearby which may represent a risk to the subject site.

Sometimes clients ask for an “Elevated Preliminary Site Investigation ” which is often scoped to undertake some limited testing of some areas the client may have identified themselves as a potential risk or concern.  This does not constitute a a Detailed Site Investigation (DSI) however does add extra information for the Preliminary Site Investigation.

A thorough PSI can provide evidence of potential environmental liability due to contamination with a property.  Once you purchase a property which is contaminated then in almost all cases it is difficult or almost impossible to get the clean-up paid for by the former owner.

With coverage of the whole of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and also experience in the USA our clients use our knowledge and experience to minimise their risk with property purchases.  Why not give us a call today to discuss you specific project or purchase.