Using Clean Fill In New South Wales: Advice For House Builders
The term 'clean fill' refers to earth and soil that is completely free from contaminants like grass, rubble and industrial waste. House builders commonly use clean fill to raise the height of a low-lying construction site or to fill in unwanted features like swimming pools and ponds. If you're building a home in New South Wales, it's important to understand how local environmental regulations can affect the supply and use of clean fill material. Find out what you need to know here.
Why do builders want clean fill?
Construction projects often create large quantities of clean fill when they remove subsoil to make way for a new development. In theory, clean fill is a form of recycling because you use up valuable unwanted material from another site that may otherwise end up in landfill.
Clean fill has almost no organic matter present. As such, this type of soil doesn't decompose. This makes clean fill a great material to use in foundations and other parts of a project because you don't need to worry about pockets of space that occur with low-quality soil that quickly decomposes.
Is it legal to source clean fill?
Many people in New South Wales advertise clean fill for sale. In most cases, this type of clean fill simply comes from a small excavation project that has created a pile of unwanted soil. While this type of clean fill may seem OK, it's unlikely that it has the properties you need.
There is actually no legal definition of clean fill in New South Wales. When soil leaves its place of origin, it automatically becomes waste. Strict regulations in NSW control the movement of waste material. For example, before you accept any waste, you must check that the waste comes with a consignment authority. Someone selling clean fill from his land probably won't have this, so you will break the law if you accept delivery of this material.
What steps should you take before accepting clean fill?
In New South Wales, you should always check with your local council to find out what controls may restrict the use of clean fill. The council will often need to check and approve that the material does not present any health or environmental risks. For example, a batch of clean fill could still harm local plants and wildlife.
What's more, if you don't have permission to use waste material in this way, you could face severe penalties, including fines and jail time. Even if you don't face criminal charges, you may have to foot the bill to remove the waste and clean up the site.
Which suppliers should you use?
Always use a professional clean fill supplier with the right credentials. Reliable suppliers can give you a valid business name and ABN, as well as customer testimonials that prove their quality of service. If an unknown operator contacts you and offers to put clean fill on your land for free, you should contact the authorities. Unscrupulous providers have scammed innocent consumers and left them with contaminated soil that costs thousands of dollars to remove.
It's important to know where your clean fill comes from. Reputable suppliers will give you details of source sites, as well as information about the site's usage and why the soil is available. A quick visual inspection can highlight obvious contamination, but pay attention to odd stains and discolouration that could point to chemical contamination. Your supplier should always give you a valid waste classification that shows you the material is safe to use.
What precautions should you take during a delivery?
You should ask waste transporters to give you documentation to prove the source of the clean fill before you accept delivery. You should also ask the driver for proof of identity and company delivery dockets. Reputable suppliers know how important these controls are and will not object to the extra scrutiny you apply.
Supervise the delivery, and make sure you only receive what you ordered. You can also check the material before the delivery driver unloads the truck. If you don't like what you see, refuse the delivery, and talk to the supplier. Keep batches of clean fill separate to avoid possible contamination.
Many house builders in NSW use clean fill during a construction project. If you need to use this type of material, make sure you don't break the law, and carry out all the necessary checks to make sure you get the right supplies.