Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and recycling

Accepting fill on your land - beware

Landholders need to be certain they do not accept illegal landfill. Contaminated fill can harm human health and the environment. It can permanently devalue your land, and you could end up facing hefty fines and clean-up costs.

Before you accept fill on your land:

  • be certain it is not contaminated
  • find out whether you need approval from your local council or the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to accept the fill and use it for your intended purposes.

Illegal landfilling is a form of illegal waste dumping. Landowners who accept illegal fill can be fined and prosecuted under NSW illegal dumping laws.

Stay safe and avoid fines and clean-up costs

The following simple steps will help you minimise the risks and avoid the dangers of accepting illegal fill on your property. Don't risk fines up to $15,000, penalties of up to $5 million, or seven years in jail.

Check if filling is permitted

Check with your local council to find out if filling of land is permitted and what approvals are required. Council approval is often required to ensure that only uncontaminated fill is used and that safety control measures are in place. Council will also check that fill is not placed in areas where it could harm plants and wildlife or pollute watercourses.

If you don’t have approval, landowners and occupants can be ordered to remove fill and pay the costs of taking it to a lawful waste facility.

Check the credentials of anyone who offers you free or cheap fill

Unscrupulous operators have been caught offering landholders 'clean fill' but delivering fill that was contaminated with building and demolition waste, harmful chemicals or asbestos. After dumping the fill they have attempted to disappear, leaving the landholder with a contaminated site and significant clean-up costs. You may not be able to see any contamination but this does not mean that the fill is 'clean'.

  • If anyone approaches you about taking fill onto your property – either free-of-charge or for payment – ask them for proof of identity (such as a drivers licence) and/or business details (such as an ABN or ACN).
  • If you have any doubts, contact your local council or ring the Environment Line on 131 555.

Never accept fill from unknown sources

  • Always ask the supplier where the fill is coming from and what activities were conducted at the site. Check whether any activity may have caused contamination.
  • Ask for the site address and consider inspecting the site prior to accepting the fill. During the inspection make sure the fill does not contain any other wastes such as bricks, concrete, wood, asbestos or plastic. Also check the fill for staining, discolouration or odour.
  • Ask that the supplier provides you with a waste classification certifying the material you are receiving.
  • If you don't know where the fill is from, don't take it.

Ask the supplier to prove that the fill isn't contaminated

  • If you have doubts about the quality of the fill, request that the material is sampled and analysed for potential contaminants before accepting it. Always ask to see the original laboratory results. Alternatively, organise samples to be collected and analysed independently to prove that the fill is clean.
  • It is an offence to supply false or misleading information about waste. If anyone supplies you with false or misleading information (such as falsified 'clean fill' documentation), report them to the EPA immediately. Phone the Environment Line on 131 555.

Supervise and inspect all loads of incoming fill

  • Supervise delivery of all loads of fill onto your property to ensure that you receive only what you have ordered. One load of contaminated fill could contaminate all other loads, particularly if they are unloaded in the same area.
  • Keep your property's entry points secure at all times, so that vehicles cannot enter without your permission or knowledge.

Record details of all transporters bringing fill onto your property

  • Ask all transporters delivering fill to your property for documentation that shows the address of origin of the fill.
  • Record the registration details of all vehicles that transport fill to your property, and ask drivers for proof of identity or employment, such as their driver’s licence or company delivery dockets.

Keep copies of all documents and records

Keep copies of all documents and records about the fill you receive, including the name and address of the supplier and transporter.

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Page last updated: 14 January 2015