Preliminary risk screen assessments (PRSAs) are a tool to help determine if a site requires an environmental audit.

PRSAs relate to a site’s existing or proposed future use. They consider the potential presence of contaminated land.

PRSAs don’t replace environmental audits, they:

  • work out whether there’s a need for an environmental audit  
  • recommend the scope for the environmental audit if it’s required.

A PRSA doesn’t make a conclusion on the suitability of a site for its existing or proposed use. Only an environmental audit can do this.

In some circumstances it may be clear that a site is contaminated. In these scenarios it may be appropriate to go straight to an environmental audit.

Only EPA-appointed environmental auditors can perform PRSAs. The PRSA process may involve environmental consultants. They can prepare assessment reports that are considered by the auditor in the PRSA.

PRSA Triggers

PRSA’s can be triggered in two ways:

  • A planning requirement, e.g., via a permit condition or to support a planning scheme amendment. Refer to Planning Practice Note 30 (PPN30) for further information on how PRSA’s are recommended.
  • Voluntarily by the landowner or occupier. This would typically occur when a site is being proposed to be re-developed.

About assessment outcomes

Once a PRSA is complete, the auditor will prepare a statement and report.

Understanding PRSA statements

The statement lets you know whether an environmental audit is needed for the use or proposed use of a site. When an audit is needed, the statement must propose a scope for it.

The PRSA statement also must include: 

  • all matters set out in the assessment’s scope  
  • the name of the person who engaged the auditor, and 
  • the auditor’s signature and contact details.  

There are three possible outcomes from a PRSA:

  • Unlikely that contaminated land is present, and no environmental audit is required
  • Likely that contaminated land is present, but no environmental audit is required
  • Likely that contaminated land is present, and an environmental audit is required on all or part of a site.

Understanding PRSA reports

A PRSA report must contain:  

  • a review of all relevant information collected during the assessment 
  • the reasons for the findings in the assessment. 

More information on PRSAs is available in  EPA publication 2021: Guideline for conducting PRSAs.

Obligation to provide preliminary risk screen assessment statement

A person in management or control of a site for which a PRSA statement has been issued, must provide a copy of the statement to any person who’s proposing to become the person in management or control of the site.

Preliminary risk screen assessment resources

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Reviewed 3 July 2023