Surf Coast Shire’s Officer for the Protection of Local Environment (OPLE) is working to raise awareness among local builders about their environmental obligations.
Following multiple complaints from residents in early 2018 about wind-blown litter from new developments, the OPLE started a strategic project with council to bring attention to building site rubbish.
“Residents who had moved to the area because of its environmental appeal were reporting rubbish, including styrofoam blocks, plastic bottles, coffee cups, plastic strapping tape and cement bags, being blown about,” the OPLE said.
“They were concerned about this material getting into the ocean and styrofoam especially can break down into small particles which are difficult to clean up.
"With strong wind gusts especially prevalent in winter it was important to stop the litter at its source.”
The OPLE worked with council’s local laws team to send co-branded EPA and Surf Coast Shire correspondence to more than 20 building companies operating in the area.
The correspondence outlined the nature of the problem, referred to a range of EPA guidance materials, and highlighted the potential penalties for companies that failed to meet their environmental obligations.
The OPLE has followed up with proactive inspections to discuss pollution issues with tradies working on site and to communicate any concerns back to the relevant site supervisors.
“I have inspected around 30 sites mainly in Torquay, and a few in Anglesea and Winchelsea. There has generally been a positive response to our letter and clean up suggestions, with several builders conveying appreciation for the project’s educational approach.”
“I am advising that evidence of continued littering can result in Surf Coast Shire Council issuing a Litter Abatement Notice, which stays on the builder’s file for three years and could lead to a fine.”
“I have also spoken with site supervisors to encourage them to get skip bins emptied more regularly, so overflowing material can’t be blown away as easily.”
Further information about preventing pollution on building sites can be found here.