Developers mitigate environmental and land contamination risks through due diligence

As a civil contractor or developer, it’s crucial to be aware of the environmental assessment requirements prior to the purchase of land and construction commencement. Failure to properly test and analyse soil conditions can lead to unexpected costs, significant project delays and excessive fines from government authorities. 

What can developers and civil contractors do to mitigate these risks? By being proactive and focusing on the correct assessment process through soil testing and analysis and environmental documentation, you can get on top of the challenges early, allowing for projects to be reworked instead of derailed.

All building projects, regardless of size and scale, require a site and intrusive soil investigations report. Findings from these reports help developers to prepare for all upcoming checks and avoid risks of future construction damage.

Through due diligence, soil testing is simple and straightforward. Our guidelines help you stay safe and provide you with information to keep your project on track through innovative methodology resulting in positive commercial outcomes.

When should developers undertake an Environmental Assessment?
In short, the earlier, the better. We recommend soil testing as early into the process of development as possible – and suggest it commence in the pre-purchase stage. Gaining information on the condition of your site helps you understand classifications and any remediation costs required in advance. This is pertinent when seeking financial backing as $50,000 spent at the commencement of a project could save you millions of dollars in remediation, fines and project delays in the later stages of construction. It can also help you to allocate funds within your project scope properly.

If conducted early and our Environmental Assessment finds contaminants, we can assist with innovative methodologies which can help with reworking the design and result in positive commercial outcomes. For example, by retaining or reusing soil onsite, we remove the need for costly disposal to landfill, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars adding environmental benefits. 

The first stop in pre-testing is a Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI). This report provides insight into the historical use of the site, which will highlight the kind of contaminants that might be present and the kind of activity that has taken place previously so that all necessary precautions are taken. Many sensitive sites require higher environmental testing standards, for instance, if the site usage classification changes from commercial/industrial to residential or agricultural use to education, more stringent environmental controls will be required.


So, how much does a soil assessment cost in Australia?

A preliminary soil assessment can cost between $3,000 – $5,000 each; they are easy to arrange and are relatively straightforward to conduct by an environmental consultant. 

Depending on the area and the site-specific attributes, you might not be aware of the investigation requirements for testing. Developers often order a small number of tests instead of completing a full investigation; however, this can result in further complications during EPA and WorkSafe checks and can lead to debilitating project costs in later phases of construction. 


A pre-construction soil test is vital to any project. It allows you to identify and address potential problems with the soil before they cause delays or damage during construction. Testing should be done in all target areas, including those that will be excavated or disturbed during the build.

This process helps identify contaminants that could leach into groundwater or runoff into surface water. In addition, a pre-construction soil test can also help to develop and manage potential soil that needs to be removed or reused on site, which provides a greater understanding of the impact this will have on their project costs.


Why do we suggest developers do their due diligence though completing a preliminary site investigation?

  • Fines from the EPA of anywhere between $200,000 to $1.8m per occurrence, 
  • Health and Safety delays due to exposure of contaminates to contractors on site
  • Unexpected soil disposal costs 
  • Design delays to your project due to unexpected fines during civil works
  • Delays to planning and building permits due to lack of environmental documentation 
  • Whilst the site is shut down for remediation to take place, other environmental impacts can occur, including contamination through water runoff, leaching etc. 
  • Loss of reputation of the brand in local community 


Your Environmental Assessment is in Good Hands with SCAADA

The SCAADA Environmental due diligence process ensures that hazardous substances don’t further impact your site assets and project delivery. It identifies and assesses the potential risk of environmental and land contamination factors based on the natural and/or anthropogenic factors originating from the site’s previous use, which could be associated with but not limited to soil, surface, water, groundwater, dust, asbestos, and chemical storage.

Our assessment process ensures that SCAADA meets the environmental legislative and government standards and provides you with a risk rating based on environmental and land contamination risks which can be invaluable prior to purchase or project commencement.

Our process consists of 4 stages:

  • Stage 1: Site Information. Capturing background information on the proposed site, including geology, hydrogeology, environmental protection authority records, environmental audits, EPA-prescribed industrial waste sites, aerial photographs, and other anecdotal information such as zoning regulations.
  • Stage 2. Site Investigation. Site walkover investigation, which will allow for a qualified environmental consultant to provide observations and summary. Simultaneously the intrusive soil investigation is conducted, where all soil samples should be analysed and reported at a NATA accredited laboratory. The findings from soil testing should highlight the following contaminants: PFAS. TRH, BTEXN, PAN, phenols, metals, OCP, OPP, SVOC, VOC, cation, anion, and nutrients.
  • Stage 3. Summary of Potential Contamination Sources. Capturing the primary contaminants of potential concern (COPC) and presenting a risk rating of low, medium, or high based on the findings from stage 1 and 2. All risk ratings are based on environmental and land contamination exposure levels and the potential for you to be exposed to legacy environmental issues and/or high level remediation costings during the construction phase of your works.
  • Stage 4. Recommendations and Conclusions. Produce a summary of findings, and limitations, outlining the final risks rating based on COPCs and provide formal recommendations on how to proceed based on results.

Our top priority is keeping you safe and avoiding any legal issues that may arise. The entire process is created to avoid potential fines and offences, ensuring your construction site doesn’t incur breaches and all remediation works are completed in time.

At SCAADA, we provide you with more than a report. Our team provide ongoing consultation and ensures the information we are providing results in practical solutions. If you’d like to start the conversation about your Environmental Assessment, get in touch with SCAADA Group on 1300 SCAADA or by contacting us here.