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    What is contaminated land?

Land is considered contaminated when there are any hazardous substances present that could pose a threat to human health or the environment.

Hazardous land uses include orchards, market gardens and other horticultural land where chemicals may have been stored or spraying may have occurred; service stations and other underground or above-ground storage of hazardous substances; motor vehicle workshops, timber treatment sites and some industrial sites. Check out additional information here.

How does land become contaminated?

When hazardous substances have not been used, stored or disposed of safely, the soil can become contaminated.  In the past, the use of hazardous substances was not as well controlled as it is today. Sometimes this contamination is still present many years after a land use has ceased.

Contaminated sites are commonly associated with past activities like:

  • Production of gas and coal products – including old gasworks sites in most towns and cities
  • Manufacture and use of pesticides
  • Production, storage and use of petroleum products
  • Historic mining
  • Timber treatment
  • Sheep dipping
  • Old landfill sites
  • Market gardens and orchards
  • Dry cleaners 


How can I find out more about activities that could cause contamination (hail)?

The Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) is a compilation of activities and industries that are considered likely to cause land contamination resulting from hazardous substance use, storage or disposal. The HAIL is intended to identify most situations in New Zealand where hazardous substances could cause, and in many cases have caused, land contamination.

The fact that an activity or industry appears on the list does not mean that hazardous substances were used or stored on all sites occupied by that activity or industry, nor that a site of this sort will have hazardous substances present in the land. The list merely indicates that such activities and industries are more likely to use or store hazardous substances and therefore there is a greater probability of site contamination occurring.  Conversely, an activity or industry that does not appear on the list does not guarantee such a site will not be contaminated. Each case must be considered on its merits, considering the information at hand.

You can check out the HAIL list here.


The Listed Land Use Register (LLUR) is a publicly available database that identifies sites where hazardous activities and industries have been located throughout Canterbury. Environment Canterbury has identified these sites and maintained the database for some years and has focused on Christchurch   since the Canterbury earthquakes because people rebuilding houses, repairing foundations or repairing earthquake-damaged land (all of which means soil is disturbed) should know about potential contamination before starting work.
You can check out the LLUR here.


In most cases being on a HAIL site does not require you to do anything.

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

For additional information before commencing work you should 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

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 qualified practitioner to help you determine whether your activity is permitted under the NES. You can find additional information here.

Employers and workers carrying out work on sites where there is suspected or confirmed contamination should have a health and safety plan in place to manage the risks of potentially contaminated land - Employees and other people must be protected from hazards associated with exposure to soil, including breathing in, ingesting or skin contact with contaminants. In the absence of detailed risk assessments, which identify the nature and extent of contamination, basic health precautions are needed.