ACT News

Canberra building sites to be scrutinised as ACT Government begins blitz on damage to public land

Canberra's builders and construction companies will come under increased scrutiny this month as the ACT Government begins a blitz on damage to public land. 

Government rangers will enforce requirements for the protection of land including nature strips and footpaths, street trees and drains. 

A building site spills out onto the footpath.
A building site spills out onto the footpath. 

The blitz, co-ordinated by the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate, will include an education campaign, and fines could be issued for breaches. 

"While many companies are mindful of their environment and always do the right thing, unfortunately there are some who do not comply with the requirements under the land use permit guidelines and, as a result, end up damaging public land and amenities," Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury said. 

"Damage to public assets such as verges, footpaths, street trees, kerbing and storm water drains creates an added cost to the public as the government must undertake rectification works." 

Rangers will visit work sites around Canberra to consider possible damage to street trees, whether public access is obscured by construction material and whether suitable erosion control measures are in place to prevent soil and other materials from reaching the road and stormwater systems.

"Use of public land for construction and storage purposes requires a land use permit which stipulates conditions to ensure no damage is caused to assets," Mr Rattenbury said.

"The aim of the blitz is to remind builders of these conditions and encourage them to take greater care of their surroundings, and be more accountable for their actions when using public land for construction purposes, particularly in new development areas."

Rangers will discuss possible breaches with builders working on-site, and information will be collected to allow follow-up visits with owners of companies involved.

Further blitzes by ACT rangers will also take place as required into 2015.

Mr Rattenbury said the ACT Master Builders Association and Housing Industry Association had been consulted ahead of the plan getting under way.

He said both groups agreed stronger government action was needed to ensure private companies complied with requirements when using public land. 

Master Builders Association deputy executive director Jerry Howard said the industry also needed to demonstrate leadership for the protection of public land. 

"While we recognise that there are some challenges, particularly in relation to smaller work sites; we must, as an industry, engage in better practices," he said.

Mr Rattenbury called on Canberra's construction industry to consider how they are currently using and treating nature strips and road verges and to clean up their act before inspection activities begin.

"Now is the time for industry to take positive action to ensure they care for open-space assets and the environment whilst undertaking building activity within the ACT," he said.