Message for construction operators: Don’t skip on our environment

Published on 03 November 2021

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Surf Coast Shire Council and the Environment Protection Authority are calling on construction companies to help better protect the environment by improving waste control and disposal at residential building sites.

Loose Styrofoam building pods, overloaded waste skips and contamination of stormwater running into the sea and fragile wetlands are among major concerns at sites across the shire.

Council and the EPA have launched a ‘Don’t Skip on our Environment’ awareness campaign, reminding operators of their responsibilities and encouraging people to report concerns.

“While we recognise that some operators strive to do their best in safeguarding against environmental damage, there are others who should show a lot more care for our environment and neighbourhood amenity,” Deputy Mayor Liz Pattison said.

“The new Environment Protection Act which has come into effect in Victoria requires businesses to take reasonably practicable steps to eliminate or reduce risks of harm to people and the environment from pollution and waste.

“That means proactively preventing environmental harm as well as dealing with the impacts of pollution and waste from their sites.

“We understand that there can be challenges with several trades coming and going from sites but the environmental responsibility rests with everyone and it remains through the whole process from the laying of foundations to the final paint.

“We are also calling on members of the public to take responsibility for their own waste and stop illegal dumping in construction site skips.”

Council and the EPA are posting ‘Don’t Skip on the Environment’ signs at key locations across the shire, and Council and EPA officers are increasing monitoring of sites and issuing of penalties.

EPA South West Region Manager Carolyn Francis urged operators to take care.

“New building activity is great for the region, but builders and land developers must meet the duties of the new Environment Protection Act 2017 including the General Environmental Duty, by controlling and preventing potential pollution risks from their sites,” Ms Francis said.

“Simple actions like stopping mud run-off to stormwater drains or local waterways, keeping noise as low as possible and between 7am to 6pm and notifying the EPA of any pollution incidents.

“Sites must also manage waste such making sure the skip bin lid is closed, and that Styrofoam building pods are properly tied down.”

Ms Francis said the ‘Don’t Skip On Our Environment’ campaign had been initiated by the EPA/Council joint Officer for the Protection of Local Environment (OPLE) program and was proving successful.

Under Council local laws, people in charge of building sites can be issued on-the-spot fines of $300 or face court penalties of $1000.

EPA officers can seek sanctions ranging from formal warnings and infringement notices to court prosecutions and court orders.

People can find more information about environmental laws and duties via the following EPA sites:

People with inquiries or seeking to report potential concerns can call Council on 5261 0600 between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday or contact Council anytime via https://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/About-us/Contact-Us

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