On 31 March the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, ordered that construction could be carried out in NSW on weekends and public holidays within the same times of day as previously permitted during the remainder of the week. This is to aid the continuation of construction work in accordance with social distancing measures.
Rock breaking, rock hammering, sheet piling, pile driving and other similar activities that would not ordinarily be permitted on a weekend are not permitted. Any other work is permitted provided it is carried out in accordance with all other conditions of the development consent and all feasible and reasonable steps are taken to minimise noise.
How long does this last for?
From now until at least 25 September 2020.
How does this affect contracts?
Many construction contracts restrict working hours. This order will not override such restrictions. A contractor will need to seek the principal’s agreement to revised hours if the contract does not permit it. If a contractor is considering exercising such rights it should also consider additional noise attenuation measures in the interests of good relations with neighbours.
What does a principal do if the contractor does not exercise a right to work weekends?
The order does not give the principal a right to require weekend work. Further, a contract may not permit a principal to direct weekend work and, even if it does, an attempt to do so may trigger an acceleration cost regime. The order has not overridden penalty rates!
All contracting parties need to take care in establishing new weekend working arrangements. We can assist you with this.
How was the order made?
The order was issued under the new section 10.17 COVID-19 pandemic—Ministerial orders of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. This allows the Minister, by order published in the Gazette, to authorise any development to be carried out on land without the need for any approval under the Act or consent from any person. Any such order overrides any existing environmental planning instrument or development consent.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of this, please contact Adam Wallwork for any construction queries or Craig Tidemann for any questions relating to planning.