Builders busted as rubbish piles up around building sites, dumped on farms in the Macedon Ranges (2024)

Display homes are the first thing you see when you enter Willow Estate in Gisborne, 60 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.

There's a clinical newness, typical of new housing estates.

In Rothschild Road, big new houses exist next to construction sites and piles of dirt, bricks, and rubbish on nature strips.

Builders busted as rubbish piles up around building sites, dumped on farms in the Macedon Ranges (1)

For the dozen or so streets at the back of Willow Estate, with more houses under construction, comes more rubbish on footpaths and roads.

It's a growing problem for the Macedon Ranges Shire Council and nearby residents, some of whom have had rubbish dumped by tradesmen on their properties.

Three minutes away from Willow Estate, Gisborne resident Greg James manages an 80-hectare rural property that has a dozen Aberdeen angus cows and tall European trees that line the 100-metre driveway to the house.

Builders busted as rubbish piles up around building sites, dumped on farms in the Macedon Ranges (2)

He was in a tractor working in a paddock three months ago when he saw a tradesperson dump dirt in the paddock.

"His excuse was he was too busy, and he didn't have time to get rid of it," Mr James said.

He said builders and tradesmen had dumped material on the Gisborne property he managed at least four times over the past 12 months.

Builders busted as rubbish piles up around building sites, dumped on farms in the Macedon Ranges (3)

"We've had washing machines, pipes, old trees, soil, plaster, dumped," Mr James said.

He has lived in Gisborne for 40 years and felt the amount of rubbish dumping and general waste had increased.

"We come out here because it's clean and quiet. We come out here to live in the country, not to live in a tip."

"It's getting worse, and I don't know how they're going to stop it. It's going to continue to get worse."

Builders busted as rubbish piles up around building sites, dumped on farms in the Macedon Ranges (4)

Hundreds of new houses contributing to waste problem in regional areas

The number of new houses built in Gisborne has jumped in recent years, according to council data.

Sixty-nine permits to build were approved in the Macedon Ranges Shire for new dwellings in Gisborne, New Gisborne, and Gisborne South in the first four months of this year.

In comparison, in 2019, 78 building permits were issued for new dwellings for the whole year.

Builders busted as rubbish piles up around building sites, dumped on farms in the Macedon Ranges (5)

The number of new homes and residents is expected to keep rising over the next five years, with the final stages of the Cathlaw Estate yet to be released.

Gisborne's estimated population is about 11,500 people, and sits within the Macedon Ranges Shire Council.

The town's population growth was more than double the average of the rest of the Macedon Ranges Shire council last year.

Builders busted as rubbish piles up around building sites, dumped on farms in the Macedon Ranges (6)

Residents call for more police patrols and a tip

Mr James said he was not surprised to hear the council had handed out a significant number of infringements to builders around Gisborne and New Gisborne during surprise inspections by the Environment Protection Authority and local council last month.

"I don't know if council inspections are going to help. There should be more police patrolling," the Gisborne resident said.

Residents' complaints sparked the surprise inspection.

Builders busted as rubbish piles up around building sites, dumped on farms in the Macedon Ranges (7)

Officers issued 52 infringements for incorrect management of building waste onsite, lack of toilet facilities, unsecure site fencing, skip bins on council land without a permit, and general rubbish on council land.

"We were receiving complaints from residents around our big development areas, about things like rubbish blowing off site, rubbish on site, and footpaths that have material on them," council director of planning and management Rebecca Stockfeld said.

Mr James said the absence of a local tip and the expensive cost of a trip to the tip, could be factors for builders and tradespeople dumping rubbish.

"We don't have a tip in Gisborne … so the tradies are going to keep dumping it," he said.

Builders busted as rubbish piles up around building sites, dumped on farms in the Macedon Ranges (8)

Council puts builders on notice after resident's complaints

Ms Stockfeld did not believe that pressure for new housing was creating sloppy building standards.

She saidnew local bylaws were tough on the management of building sites.

"It's aimed at keeping waste on site and making sure the environment around the site is reasonable and clean," she said.

Local laws officers also referred seven unsafe sites to WorkSafe Victoria for further investigation.

"Some of these estates are next to our farming land and that polystyrene and litter is ending up on our farmland," Ms Stockfeld said.

She said the council will keep an eye on these estates and do more blitzes in the future.

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Builders busted as rubbish piles up around building sites, dumped on farms in the Macedon Ranges (2024)
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