The National Environmental Management Waste Act sets out provisions relating to the sale of ‘contaminated land’, which is defined as ‘the presence of a substance that affects or may affect the quality of soil or the environment adversely’. Many industrial sites are likely to fall into this category.
The Act specifies that an owner of land that is significantly contaminated must notify the Minister and MEC of such contamination.
The Act further specifies that no person may transfer contaminated land without informing the purchaser of this fact. Failure to do so will render the contract void.
There is no positive obligation on a seller to assess a site to determine whether or not it is contaminated; however, the absence of an obligation to do such an assessment is not a defence in circumstances where the contamination is an obvious consequence of the activities undertaken on the site.
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