Auckland Council has taken action against widespread compliance issues, including insufficient sediment controls and failing to control rubbish from building sites, at a large development in east Auckland.
Staff from the council’s Regulatory Compliance team undertook a large-scale inspection in Flat Bush on Monday morning that found 13 construction sites on a single street in breach of the rules, despite warnings from the council last week and a proactive campaign to educate builders in the area.
No tolerance for non-compliance
Councillor Linda Cooper, Chair of the Regulatory Committee, says that such widespread non-compliance is completely unacceptable.
“This is especially disappointing to see when the council has taken steps to try and educate these builders and has given them a number of warnings. We expect a much higher level of professionalism from the building industry,” Councillor Cooper says.
“Their resource consent is essentially an agreement between the developer and the public that they will follow the rules and ensure they aren’t causing any adverse effects. When the council is forced to step in, it costs ratepayers and means our staff aren’t available to address other issues.
“It’s not right that Aucklanders have to pay for these companies’ disregard for the rules,” Councillor Cooper says.
“While the council encourages development to meet the current housing shortage, it cannot be at the expense of the environment.”
Warnings ignored by builders
Despite extensive work to educate builders, and repeated warnings to clean up their acts, the council’s Manager Regulatory Compliance Steve Pearce says that there have been continued compliance issues in the area.
“We’ve seen general disregard for any measures that minimised sediment run off and for the advice given to them. In addition, many sites have failed to control accumulated rubbish from blowing off the site or spilling onto public land,” Mr Pearce says.
“The area has also been subject to dumping problems. Much of this is domestic rubbish, although some has clearly come from building sites.”
As part of a targeted compliance campaign, Auckland Council staff have focused their attention on the sites that are some of the worst in the area.
“We recently visited 15 sites in one street and identified breaches of the Resource Management Act in relation to sediment controls at all of these sites,” says Mr Pearce.
“We revisited these sites on Monday, and found many were still not compliant. We are issuing abatement notices requiring the builders to rectify the situation immediately. Failure to follow the directions of the abatement may result in infringement fines of $750 for every day they fail to comply. Ultimately, they may be prosecuted and enforcement orders sought to prevent any further building work taking place.
“Auckland Council’s Waste Solutions team will be clearing the area of rubbish and will proactively monitor the area for further offending. This may result in infringements fines up to $400 or even prosecution.”
Further enforcement action coming
Councillor Cooper says that this is the first of a number of such initiatives the council will be undertaking to look at widespread compliance issues at various large subdivisions across Auckland.
“Sediment run off pollutes Auckland’s waterways and harbours, posing a significant risk to both the public and wildlife,” Councillor Cooper says.
“We will continue to focus our attention on those builders and developers who choose not to take basic measures to prevent sediment run off.”
Local board education disregarded
Howick Local Board Chair David Collings says while pleased to see council taking action, it is disappointing it has gotten to this point.
“It is particularly disappointing as last year, we initiated a small sites ambassador’s programme which involved officers proactively educating builders to ensure sites were kept tidy and they had good sediment control. The programme focussed on finding out how well builders were doing with sediment management and the industry’s level of knowledge of this practice.
“What staff found was a widespread lack of sediment control in place, so builders were given brochures in an attempt to educate them on sediment control, their responsibilities and the requirements of the Resource Management Act.
“Flat Bush is a hive of building activity so it is vital that there is proper management of sediment runoff from development sites so our waterways are not polluted. Anything that puts the health of our waterways at risk cannot be tolerated,” said Mr Collings.