COUNCIL has recently spent a lot of time in making a decision regarding the application of contamination notations on section 149 (s149) certificates, particularly in the area surrounding the former Pasminco smelter area at Boolaroo.
S149 certificates provide details of the zoning of land and any council policies that may restrict the use of the land, for example, mine subsidence, road widening, flooding, bush fire, contamination, and Aboriginal heritage.
There is unlikely to be a property anywhere in the city that is not affected by one or more restrictions.
Section 149 certificates are a planning certificate under Section 149 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and NSW Government legislation states that a person must obtain an s149 certificate to be able to sell land.
This being the case, council has a legal obligation to disclose known information about past and present contamination, as well as any works to remediate contamination.
I also believe council has a moral obligation in this regard, and has taken very seriously the consideration of its obligations in determining making its decision.
Advice from professional staff and legal counsel has been sought on this matter, alongside consultation with community and state government authorities.
Council cannot ignore or remove the history associated with the former smelter and indeed, persons interested in Boolaroo, Speers Point, Argenton, and Macquarie Hills will always be able to find references to the smelter and possible contamination.
It is likely that misinformation arising from that circumstance is much more likely than the scenario where authoritative information is provided via s149 certificates.
If a property has either participated in the current Lead Abatement Strategy for this area, or had other appropriate treatment taken on their property, and this is reflected in the s149 certificate, this must in be of benefit to the property.
These residential properties are very well located with good access to services, shops, public transport and the lake and I am very confident that properly disclosed and informative information about properties will only be of benefit to property owners and prospective future residents.
* Greg Piper is mayor of Lake Macquarie.