Unauthorised building work and unlawful activity takes many forms and can range from very minor technical breaches which cause little or no environmental harm, to blatant environmental law breaches for projects that would never receive development approval.
It is a criminal offence to breach environmental laws, and courts can issue fines of up to $1.2 million and gaol sentences.
While Wollongong City Council is proactive in identifying unauthorised work/activity, we rely heavily on the community to make complaints and provide evidence to assist us in taking enforcement action.
Enforcement action, if necessary, may include:
- Notices and Orders requiring the offender to do, or refrain from doing something
- Prosecution for criminal offences
- Fines (Penalty Infringement Notices)
- Deeds of Settlement (agreements regarding what is to happen in order to avoid or settle court proceedings)
- Injunctions to restrain or remedy serious breaches (Court Orders).
Council must exercise discretion when deciding how to deal with unauthorised work, taking into account the evidence, cost to the community of any action, circumstances of the individual case, public policy and legal precedent.
One significant question Council will ask about unauthorised work is "If the proper application had been made, would approval have been granted?"
If the answer is "Yes", Council may permit the illegal work to remain or the unlawful activity to continue subject to the appropriate "regularising" applications being made.
If the answer is "No", Council may require the illegal work to be demolished.
Enforcement Policy - Governs Council's response to unlawful building and development activity.
Private Principal Certifying Authority Complaint Policy - Governs Council's response to complaints to unlawful building and development activity on a site where a private certifiers has been appointed.