When it comes to paying for a Phase 1 environmental site assessment the old adage “you get what you pay for” has some relevance. While the actual cost will vary according to the features and past uses of a site, when it’s done too cheaply, critical checks will be missed and the assessment won’t be worth the paper it’s written on.
What is a Phase 1 environmental site assessment?
A Phase 1 site assessment is used to identify past and present activities that have potential to cause contamination to a site. Also called a preliminary site investigation, the assessment usually involves a historical study of past land uses together with a site inspection. Occasionally, soil and/or groundwater samples are collected to give some insight on the impact of any potential contamination or to provide a foundation for a more detailed site investigation.
When do I need an environmental site assessment?
A Phase 1 environmental site assessment is typically requested by planning authorities for site rezoning or redevelopment. While it can be an unwelcome step in gaining development approval, a preliminary site investigation is integral to Councils’ planning controls particularly SEPP 55. Phase 1 site assessments can also be really useful due diligence in property purchases / divestments and are also used to determine clean up liabilities.
How much does a Phase 1 environmental site assessment cost?
If you’re looking for a quick answer, the average cost of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is between $3,500 and $6,000. The actual cost, however, can be more or less depending on site variables. Anything cheaper than $3,500 and you’re probably going to get stuck with the need for further work because critical checks or document reviews have been missed.
Site location can impact the cost of Phase 1 environmental site assessments
A site’s location and features are going to impact the price. All Phase 1 environmental site assessments involve a review of historical records and government information for both your property and those nearby. A more complicated development history will require contact with more organisations and retrieval fees plus additional time to analyse more information. For example, a Phase 1 report for a greenfield site with no development history will take less time than an industrial site with multiple past uses that raise the potential for contamination. Since time equals money, less time or more time will impact the cost.
Physical features may impact costs
A small plot of undeveloped land is going to be easier to report on compared to a large and complex industrial property with multiple buildings and underground fuel tanks. In the latter case, you can expect to pay a higher price for a Phase 1 assessment. This is a generalisation of course, because sometimes smaller properties have more complex issues than larger ones.
Environmental expertise impacts the price of a Phase 1 environmental site assessment
Environmental site assessments should be completed by an environmental professional who is fluent with the legislation and guidelines associated with contaminated land. One guide on the experience and standards of a consultant is to determine whether they are a Certified Environmental Practitioner or registered by the SCPA. A site contamination auditor needs to meet strict standards to become accredited by the EPA and also indicates a high level of professionalism and expertise.
Why you should avoid a cheap Phase 1 environmental site assessment
Most Phase 1 providers that charge a cheap price are undoubtedly cutting corners. You’ll get a low-priced report but it may not be worth the paper it’s printed on. There can be serious environmental, economic and legal implications if a site assessment doesn’t meet all relevant regulations but usually a poor quality contaminated site report is the precursor for a very costly Phase 2 Detailed Site Investigation.
Seek an environmental consultant you can rely on
Depending on your goals and objectives for the site, you can have a lot riding on a Phase 1 report. False or incomplete information can lead to poor and expensive decisions. Geo-Logix recommends that you don’t shop solely on price alone, but rather seek reliability based on professionalism, track record and expertise.