Rubbish bins

Contaminated Sites Act 2003

Some of the aspects of the Contaminated Sites Act 2003 which are important to Local Government include:

  • The definition of 'owner'
  • The definition of 'contaminated'
  • The interaction between the Act and other relevant legislation

The task of interpretation of the Act falls ultimately falls to the courts and there are currently no precedents we can apply.  However, legal opinions can assist, provided their status is well understood.  A legal opinion is the view of an expert (a lawyer) and it isn’t binding on anyone.  In effect, it is the lawyer's 'best guess' about the likely decision of the courts on a given question.

In 2002, the Municipal Waste Advisory Council retained solicitors Minter Ellison to provide a legal opinion on the then current version of the Contaminated Sites Bill.  The purpose of the opinion was to inform the Municipal Waste Advisory Council’s lobbying activities so that we were able to ask for useful changes to be made.

 The applicability of this legal opinion to the current Contaminated Sites Act 2003, is also a matter of interpretation.  In particular, the relevance of the lawyer’s comments depends on the effect of any changes made to the Bill prior to Parliamentary assent.

 We have decided to post this legal opinion so that you can make up your own mind.  Some useful links are provided below, including links to the Act and the relevant Draft Version of the Bill so that you can determine whether the legal opinion remains applicable. 

Legal Opinion provided by Minter Ellison

Draft Version 13 – Contaminated Sites Bill

Reference to Local Government Law Journal

We believe that further legal advice is likely to be required by Local Governments from around the State.