Erosion and sediment control (ESC)

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 a person must not cause environmental harm, which includes depositing prescribed water contaminants (earth, concrete, building waste etc) in roadside gutters, stormwater drains and waterways. This also extends to the placement of prescribed contaminants at a place, for example a building site, in a way where it could reasonably be expected to erode from the site and enter any of the above.

Generally, where earth disturbing works are occurring in line with a Development Approval, Council's City Plan 2014 further requires that Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) measures are installed and maintained on the site in accordance with current industry best practice - see Erosion Hazard Assessment (EHA) for more information.

Contraventions of both the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Planning Act 2016 are investigated by Councils Erosion and Sediment Control Team.

Report soil and sediment pollution

You can report ESC issues online if you see earth, concrete or any other building waste entering the roadside gutter, stormwater system or waterway.

Alternatively, if your request is urgent, please phone Council on 07 3403 8888.

ESC standard on development sites

Standards relating to ESC  development sites are contained in Chapter 7 of the Infrastructure Design Planning Scheme Policy of the Brisbane City Plan 2014. In general, City Plan 2014 recognises current industry best practice, International Erosion Control Association (IECA) 2008, however to the extent of any inconsistency Council's City Plan 2014 prevails.

Enforcement Action

Failure to implement appropriate erosion and sediment control measures can result in fines ranging from 20 penalty units up to 100 penalty units for development related offences.

As at 1 July 2019, the value of a penalty unit is equal to $133.45. The fine amount must be rounded down to the nearest dollar after the calculation. For example, the fine amount for an infringement of two penalty units is: 2 x $133.45 = $266.90. The rounded down fine amount is $266.

In addition to fines, Council may also decide to issue a statutory notice that may direct, amongst other things, suitable clean-up of the site and external spaces, the installation of ESC measures and the certification of those measures by a suitably qualified person.

Where a significant breach of either the Environmental Protection Act 1994 or the Planning Act 2016 has occurred, Council may decide to prosecute. As a result of a successful prosecution the Court may impose significant penalties in addition to orders to remedy the contravention.

Prosecution and court penalties for major development and environmental offences may apply.

Application forms

Erosion hazard assessment (EHA)

All applications for a material change of use, reconfiguration of a lot or operational work (where not previously addressed), which will result in land disturbance or exposure of soil, must include a completed Erosion Hazard Assessment (EHA) form.

A person who is suitably qualified to assess the potential erosion risk of the development is required to certify this form. This is outlined in the Erosion Hazard Support Technical Notes.

Erosion and sediment control (ESC) design certificate

An erosion and sediment control design certificate is required as evidence that a suitably qualified professional has reviewed the erosion and sediment control program and plans for a project and can verify that the plans meet current industry best practice techniques and will effectively mitigate sediment migration from the project site. It is required for any project assessed as 'medium' or 'high' risk according to the Erosion hazard assessment form and is required to be completed and lodged with Council at least 10 days prior to the prestart meeting or commencement of site works.

Erosion and sediment control (ESC) inspection certificate

An erosion and sediment control inspection certificate is required as evidence that a suitably qualified professional has reviewed the erosion and sediment control construction and implementation for a project and can verify that the construction is in accordance with the certified design, meets current industry best practice techniques and will effectively mitigate sediment migration from the project site. It is required for any project assessed as having a 'high' risk according to the Erosion hazard assessment form. An ESC inspection certificate is required to be completed and held on site for inspection by Council officers until all exposed soil areas are permanently stabilised against erosion.

Further information

Information is widely available on industry best practice for ESC to reduce the degradation of land and water and help ensure you are compliant with your legal obligations to maintain adequate ESC on your site.

The Australasian International Erosion Control Association (IECA) publishes the Best Practice Erosion and Sediment Control (BPESC) document. Visit their website at www.austieca.com.au.

A range of ESC field guides, factsheets, case studies and drawings for small and large-scale projects can be found on the Catchments and Creeks website at www.catchmentsandcreeks.com.au.

The Healthy Land and Water website at www.hlw.org.au contains informative toolkits and factsheets to improve ESC practices and compliance on construction and building sites.

Last updated:12 November 2019