Wollondilly Shire Council is located about an hour from the Sydney CBD and within the South West growth corridor. It covers a significant area and prides itself on the mantra of “rural living”.
Unfortunately for Wollondilly both its size, and its proximity, lends itself to unscrupulous contractors using the council area to dispose of waste. A recent example of this was the dumping of 25,000 tonnes of asbestos contaminated waste on land under the guise of building a rural fire trail. The building of that trail was carried out without a construction certificate and in areas in which endangered ecological flora was located. It also involved the wholesale destruction of some 500m of watercourse and riverbeds.
Hones Lawyers’s brief was to:
- Investigate the works that had been carried out;
- Consider whether those works could properly be considered as works under a development consent the Council had granted for the erection of a dwelling; and
- Advise the Council on the best way to restrain the ongoing unlawful works and remedy the environmental harm caused by the offender.
Ultimately the largest proceedings of their kind (that we are aware of) where commenced in the Land & Environment Court seeking relief (by way of restraining orders and remediation orders) under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act, Water Management Act, and the Protection of the Environment Operations Act. We drafted all of the pleadings, various interlocutory applications, the evidence (from over 10 witnesses) and briefed counsel.
After almost 2 weeks of hearing time, the Council was successful on every point that was run, with the Land & Environment Court granting the Council the relief it sought, including an order that the waste material be removed and the river reinstated.