If you're a builder or a property owner, earthworks are probably second nature to you and you know the processes involved when it comes to digging up and moving soil.
But if you're a regular resident wanting to do carry out earthworks for a swimming pool or a garage, then you might have to do your research when it comes to landfill legislation.
Earthworks are when you dig down or add soil more than 0.6 of a metre which means you need a Development Application (DA).
Consulting and Environmental Services (CESSOILS) Lithgow's PhD certified professional soil scientist and environmental practitioner, Doctor Jane Aiken said there was a need for awareness when it came to digging or moving soil.
"It's an issue here in Lithgow, people are unaware of the risks associated with moving soil from one site to another.
"What we are doing [CESSOILS] is trying to alert our public that this is really an important issue," she said.
She said soil could be attained for free through the excavation of earthworks.
"Instead of taking that soil to a licenced land facility we can use it on our land, however we need to follow the resource recovery framework," she said.
People are unaware of the risks associated with moving soil from one site to another.Dr Jane Aiken
She said no one should accept soil from a batch processing or recycling site.
"That is not the true nature of excavated natural material, it's processed.
"If you're taking soil from one site to another the legal system says, even though you own the properties, that you need to make sure you can prove the soil moved around is either virgin, excavated, natural material (VENM) or excavated natural material (ENM), which can be a bit of a mixture," she said.
Dr Aiken said the framework was an order from the Government which involved an assessment of the materials and an acceptance of the materials by the land holder.
"It's all about premises, site, lot and DP number.
"We want to make sure we are not degrading our land by putting harmful chemicals on it. We want to keep our landscapes pristine," she said.
She said the main factor soil scientists look for is where the material has come from and if it contains acid, sulfate or asbestos.
"Asbestos is one of the most important health risks which we need to manage, it's something that we know is detrimental to people's health.
"Plus if asbestos is found on your property it can cause problems if you want to sell it. You might end up with an illegal landfill on your property, that's what we want to avoid," she said.
Dr Aiken said CESSOILS acted as a link to be able to help property owners and builders assess their site, obtain and verify their soil and make sure it was suitable for particular earthworks.
"We help gather the information and get the paperwork which proves the soil is not contaminated," she said.
She said it was important for the owner of the property to keep a copy of the resource recovery order, a copy of the ENM certificate for six years according to the EPA (NSW Environment Protection Authority).
We want to keep our landscapes pristine.Dr Jane Aiken
Dr Aiken said if the Council or someone identifies a landfill on your property without the paperwork, it would spark a costly investigation.
"If you have been moving soil around or building materials without certified paperwork then you're up for an expensive site contamination assessment according to the State Government State and Environmental planning policy 55 for land contamination," she said.
She said CESSOILS did not want to make it difficult for those wanting to carry out earthworks, but instead help them.
"We just want to let people know that it is a very costly issue, you can get fined, receive a clean up notice, and once you get a clean up notice your property is registered with having waste on it for as long as you want to sell it," she said.
Dr Aiken said CESSOILS had developed an online shop where people could ask questions and find their responsibilities as a land holder.
She reminded those who did earthworks and kept it all on site didn't have to worry about the framework.
"You don't have to go through the process of verifying," she said.
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