For architects and town planners in NSW, your Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) is a critical step towards Council approving your construction works. But a rejected report can lead to hefty time delays, additional costs and a request for further testing.
How can you ensure your PSI report will stand up to scrutiny? Our environmental consultants have helped hundreds of NSW clients submit successful PSI reports to get their projects moving forward.
Before submitting your next PSI report to Council, make sure it ticks these three safety checks for fast approval.
Faster Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) Approval: Three Factors
1. Site history and potential contamination: A comprehensive PSI looks deep into the historical use of the site, identifying any past activities that might have led to contamination. Any sites with a history of Commercial or Industrial use, or located in certain parts of NSW, are most at risk of finding contamination.
Takeaway: Although this historical context can often be completed through desktop research, a site walk-over and sampling of potential contamination areas will greatly increase your chances of Council approval.
2. Areas of Environmental Concern (AEC): Beyond the historical use of your site, a PSI should identify and assess areas of environmental concern early on. AEC could be caused by waste disposal in or near the location, chemical storage, or other operations that might have introduced contaminants to the site. Again, this information can be gained through desktop research into Council approved databases. However, this may lead to Council rejecting your PSI report due to lack of information and shallow recommendations.
Takeaway: A site walk-over, sampling with NESA accredited testing and a review of aerial images is the best way to comprehensively show Council any areas of concern.
3. Regulatory and Council requirements: A PSI isn’t just about the site itself; it’s also about understanding and meeting the specific criteria set by councils and regulatory bodies in NSW. The NSW EPA and local councils have thresholds for different contaminants. Understanding these limits can be the difference between your site being approved or further testing required. Site sensitivity, meaning those near wetlands or distinct environments, may require thorough sampling and recommendations to show Council how you will prevent leaching and other environmental problems. Residential sites may also require a site walk-over and testing to show Council there are no community safety hazards.
Takeaway: A PSI report with thorough documentation, on-site sampling and detailed recommendations gives Council the information they need to approve your construction.
Common reasons for PSI rejections & how to avoid them
A PSI can be rejected for a range of reasons, including insufficient environmental research, missed details on historical use like underground fuel tanks, or using incorrect assessment criteria. At NEO Consulting, we prioritise:
- Thoroughness: Our team ensures that every PSI is comprehensive and tailored to local Council needs.
- Regulatory Alignment: We stay updated with the latest NSW regulations and Council requirements.
- On-Site Investigations: We believe in the importance of on-site visits, ensuring our reports are grounded in real observations.
Before submitting a PSI report, you should expect your environmental partner to:
- Provide clear communication: Your partner should keep you informed at every step, ensuring you’re never in the dark.
- Experience & expertise: With timelines and additional costs at risk, your partner should have a track record for meeting specific local Council requirements.
- Deliver timely reports: Your environmental partner should provide fast and thorough Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) reports with accurate results.
Gaining Development Application (DA) approval for your site doesn’t need to be a challenge. With the right approach and environmental partner, architects and town planners can submit PSI reports to Council with confidence.