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    Land Development and Earthworks


The National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (NES) came into effect in January 2012.

The Standard regulates five different types of activity where land is or has been previously used for a HAIL. It helps city and district councils to carry out their duties under Section 30 of the Resource Management Act. They must prevent or mitigate the adverse effects of the development, subdivision, or use of contaminated land.

The main effect of the Standard on homeowners is the regulation requiring resource consent if you want to remove or disturb large volumes of soil, subdivide the land or change the land use on potentially contaminated land. If your land repair work involves soil disturbance (e.g. excavation or filling) or removal, and the land has previously been used for a hazardous activity or industry, then you need to know about the NES as it contains rules that will be relevant to your land repair works.

To find out more about the National Environmental Standard and how it affects landowners, click here.


If your land was damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes and needs to be repaired and you want to know more about the process and the next steps to take you can access information here.

The Christchurch City Council has additional information on steps to take here or contact your local council.

Christchurch City Council
Duty Planner on 03 941 8999

Selwyn District Council
Rolleston (03) 347-2800 or
Darfield (03) 318-8338 (Council lines operate 24 hours, 7 days)

Waimakariri District Council
Phone 03 311 8900


If your property is confirmed as having a HAIL activity on it then you will need to consider the requirements of the NES when undertaking work on your land that involves soil disturbance.


It’s important that you consider the safety of workers, your family, neighbours and the environment when undertaking land repair work on HAIL land. Note that depending on how the soil disturbance or excavation activity will take place (the amount of soil that will need to be disturbed or removed) you may need the assistance of a SQEP to help you determine whether your activity is permitted under the NES. Your SQEP will also advise you about remediation options and process for managing, treating and disposing of contaminated soil.


If you or your staff are carrying out work on land that is, or maybe, contaminated then you should follow these guidelines from Worksafe NZ.  Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act), sections 7 to 10, employers are required to identify significant hazards and to manage and control them in the workplace. This guide will assist with the orderly and safe management of a potentially hazardous place of work. Before undertaking any work, it is important to to have an understanding of the Worksafe New Zealand guidelines around working on potentially contaminated sites.


It is essential that appropriate precautions are taken when carrying out earthworks so that the risk of contaminants spreading is minimised. You should also check whether a Resource Consent is required from Environment Canterbury.

Environment Canterbury:

Phone: 03 353 9007 or 0800 324 636. www.ecan.govt.nz

Environment Canterbury has worked with major developers and local contractors to prepare a guide and training opportunities for minimising erosion and sediment generation.

A range of detailed measures for earthworks, including residential and commercial subdivisions, roading, some forestry works, quarries, cleanfills and landfills, stream works, installation of utility services and housing construction on individual small sites, are covered within the guide.