Strengthened environmental guidelines will be introduced to construction sites in the ACT this week, in a bid to control erosion and prevent sediment from sites polluting waterways. Developers, who are currently required to undertake work in stages in order to minimise exposed soil, will be required to submit a detailed proposal demonstrating their capacity to do so. A plan will be required setting out where soil will be exposed on the site and for what period of time, prior to commencing work. The Environment Protection Authority has also expanded the size requirement of ponds which retain sediment on site. Director Su Wild-River said this was in anticipation of more intense rain events in the future. This year's budget included funding for the recruitment of two additional environment protection officers to help ensure compliance, with the capacity for courts to impose heavy penalties for those found flouting the rules. Ms Wild-River said the initial response was engagement and education, with penalties for non-compliance rarely required. An analysis from the office of the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, outlined in the State of the Lakes and Waterways report released in August found just $2,625 in fines for non-compliance with erosion and sediment control had been handed down between 2018-2021. The report also found development at Whitlam had adversely impacted water quality at Deep Creek due to the flow of sediment into waterways. Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti said it is known that erosion and sediment control is a key risk involved in land development and construction work here in the ACT. She said the guidelines were designed to minimise risk, aiding developers and builders to complete their work in a way that is environmentally conscientious. READ ALSO: Business Minister Tara Cheyne said the ACT government had worked closely with industry in developing the guidelines, which had the backing of the National Building Association and Housing Industry Association. Ms Cheyne said, under the Environment Protection Act, all builders, developers and people undertaking similar construction have a duty to prevent environmental harm. "We all have a shared goal of prevention [that] is much better and much less costly than having to respond to issues of environmental crime or environmental justice," she said. Ms Cheyne said while policy around staged approaches to construction had been working well, the new guidelines ensured requirements were as clear as possible, as was the potential to be penalised. She said individuals could be fined up to $1,600, businesses risked fines of $8,100 from the authority, and the courts could impose penalties of up to $81,000. "The team will be very active as part of that engage, educate, enforce approach over the coming days, to make sure that this is a real focus on the prevention of having to respond to something like environmental degradation," Ms Cheyne said. We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on The Canberra Times website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. See our moderation policy here.