Compliance blitz hits Parramatta River building sites with over $127,000 in fines

Over 50 per cent of sites inspected during a month-long compliance blitz were not managing their environmental controls adequately leading to fines totalling more than $127,000 for developers along the Parramatta River.

A total of 204 sites were inspected by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and eight member councils of the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) in Blacktown, Parramatta, Cumberland, Ryde, Hunters Hill, Canada Bay, Hills Shire, and Burwood Council areas.

Investigations revealed sites with no controls in place at all, collapsed fencing, sediment bags showing wear-and-tear and leaking, and inadequate containment of sediment stockpiles. Regulatory action was taken depending on the offence, including verbal directions, formal warnings, prevention notices and financial penalties.

Developments of all sizes were targeted, with inspections ranging from small home renovations to large apartment estates and major road developments.

Follow-up inspections are scheduled to take place, and developers can incur fines of $8,000 to $15,000 per site for each incident.

The ‘Get the Site Right’ initiative tackles sediment pollution and soil erosion at construction sites surrounding the Parramatta River and forms part of the Our Living River initiative to make the river swimmable again by 2025.

Timed in anticipation of a rainy November, the initiative draws attention to how sediment from construction sites can be washed directly into stormwater pipes or creeks leading to the Parramatta River if not properly contained.

With rapid growth and urban development taking place around the river, ‘Get The Site Right’ highlights the responsibility developers and builders have in keeping our waterways clean.

Pollution incidents can be reported by calling the Environment Line number 131 555.

See more at www.ourlivingriver.com.au.

Quotes:

NSW EPA Regional Director Metropolitan Branch Ms Giselle Howard said that erosion and sediment from construction sites poses a major threat to the river and environment, if not properly managed.

“We support development but we want it done right. With the rapid construction and development taking place around Parramatta River, sediment can run off building sites into stormwater drains and straight into the river,” Ms Howard said.

“This runoff can pollute the river with dirt, soil, sand and mud, which can in turn smother native plants and animals that live in these waterways. Eroded river and creek banks also destroy habitats, and stormwater drains blocked by sediment can lead to flooding and overflows.

“That’s why this compliance blitz was so important. We’re excited to be working with local councils to raise awareness with developers and the community about the effects of sediment laden runoff, and also taking regulatory action as required.”

PRCG Chair Clr Jerome Laxale said the compliance campaign reflects the changing landscape of the Parramatta River.

“As residential development replaces the old industrial sites along the river, there is increasing demand for a quality river where people can safely swim,” Clr Laxale said. 

“‘Get the Site Right’ is a great example of how the member authorities of the PRCG are working together to protect the treasure that is the Parramatta River.

“The community also has a key role to play, by letting the EPA or local Council know if they see a site that doesn’t look right.”

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Get the Site Right is a joint taskforce between the Parramatta River Catchment Group, its member councils and the NSW Environment Protection Authority. We are working together to target developers and enforce best practice on building sites, to protect the Parramatta River and surrounding environments and continue on the positive path to making the river swimmable again.