Saturday, May 25, 2024

Lake Macquarie works to get the sites right

Builders and developers are being urged to safeguard their construction materials from high wind and weather events to prevent pollution of local waterways as part of Lake Macquarie City Council’s Get the Site Right campaign. 

Now in its eighth year, Get the Site Right is a joint taskforce between the Cooks River Alliance, Georges Riverkeeper, NSW Dept of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI), NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Parramatta River Catchment Group, Sydney Coastal Councils Group, WaterNSW, and councils across the state.

During the month-long campaign, officers from the NSW EPA, DPHI, and more than 20 councils will participate in inspections for a one-day compliance blitz on Thursday 16 May.

The 2024 campaign’s focus is on pollution prevention through securing construction materials.

Last year’s Get the Site Right blitz led to a 6% increase in compliance between the May and October campaigns and the taskforce is aiming to improve on those numbers.

NSW EPA Director Operations, Adam Gilligan said the loss of building materials, such as roof sheeting or insulation padding, was costly to both the construction industry and the environment.

“Construction materials washed or blown from construction sites can block stormwater drains, as well as impact the health of our waterways and marine life,” he said.

“Builders and developers have a duty to ensure their sites have the proper controls in place to prevent pollution incidents.

“Environmental criminals will also now have a higher price to pay, thanks to recently passed stronger penalties, with on-the-spot fines for water pollution starting at $30,000 for companies.

“These new fines are even more reason for builders and developers to prevent pollution and do the right thing.”

Lake Macquarie City Council Manager Environment, Regulation and Compliance, Derek Poulton said builders and home renovators had an important role to play in protecting our waterways for recreational use.

“When sediments and other building materials are washed down stormwater drains and into our waterways it not only degrades water quality, but can destroy aquatic habitats,” he said.

“Get the Site Right is an important part of our ongoing strategy to manage the environmental impacts of construction.

“We want to help improve the health of the lake for the entire community and the benefit of the environment.”

Failing to put these protections in place can attract on-the-spot fines for individuals of $15,000 for the first offence and $22,500 for a second offence.

Companies face $30,000 for the first offence and $45,000 for a second offence if water pollution occurs under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

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.

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