Builders in New South Wales who breach planning rules will now be subject to fines of up to $5,000 as the government moves to beef up deterrents in order to enforce compliance with planning rules.

Under changes to the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 which are now in effect, will see the maximum fine a court can impose upon builders and construction companies for breaches of planning rules has risen from $1.1 million to $5 million, whilst councils have been given greater powers to investigate suspected breaches of conditions.

In addition, maximum fines which the Government can impose on companies for breach of development consents will rise from $3,000 to $15,000.

In a statement, State Planning Minister Robert Stokes said the higher penalties would send a strong message to contractors who failed to comply with planning conditions and help to promote public confidence in the planning system.

“We need to send a strong message that conditions enforcing matters like fire safety are not optional extras,” Stokes said.

“These are the toughest fines in the country for planning offences, and reflect our commitment to protecting our community and the environment.”

The Government says the changes follow a doubling of the number of compliance officers employed across the state.