Thursday, December 15, 2022

Record fines for non-compliant developments signals need for builders to get their site right

Poor erosion and control on a building site
Poor sediment control on a building site

As construction costs remain at record levels*, builders and developers are urged to check and maintain erosion and sediment controls on building and construction sites to avoid incurring costly fines.

The call for greater compliance comes following the recent Get the Site Right inspection Blitz Week in which $596,064 in fines were issued – the highest amount since the campaign began in 2016.

Nineteen councils across Sydney and parts of regional NSW inspected 654 sites, of which 361 sites (55%) were found to be compliant – a one per cent increase on the May 2022 campaign.

Offences ranged from sediment tracking off the site, to no stabilised access point and building supplies stored on the nature strip.

By law, builders and developers are required to have a comprehensive erosion and sediment control plan for their site. Activities that cause a pollution incident can incur fines from $8,000-$15,000 for each incident.

The forecast of more severe weather in coming months, including heavy rain and damaging winds, provides a further incentive for builders to improve site controls to prevent costly building supplies from being washed or blown away and polluting local waterways.**

Georges Riverkeeper Program Manager, Scott Reyes, said, "It's crucial that builders don't cut corners and do install the correct sediment and erosion controls on their sites. Building materials such as sand and soil that are not properly contained can be blown or washed off a site into stormwater drains and out to our local waterways. Sediment runoff from building sites harms aquatic life, can accumulate excessively in creeks and riverbanks, and damages or blocks stormwater infrastructure."

Get the Site Right is a joint taskforce between the Cooks River Alliance, Georges Riverkeeper, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Parramatta River Catchment Group, Sydney Coastal Councils Group, WaterNSW, Department of Planning and Environment (DPE), and local councils.

The campaign targets erosion and sediment control on building and construction sites and highlights the impact of sediment-laden runoff on our waterways.

Councils that participated in the October 2022 campaign: Blacktown City Council, Blue Mountains, Campbelltown City Council, City of Canada Bay, City of Canterbury Bankstown, City of Parramatta, City of Ryde, Fairfield City Council, Georges River Council, Lane Cove Council, Lithgow City Council, Liverpool City Council, Northern Beaches Council, Randwick City Council, Sutherland Shire Council, Waverley Council, Willoughby City Council, Wollondilly Shire Council and Woollahra Municipal Council.

Members of the public are encouraged to report pollution incidents, including poor sediment control, to their local council or the EPA’s 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555.