Fines up to $3000 for advertising on trailers in Lake Macquarie under NSW environmental planning policy

Sign of the times: If Tony Watkins had not heeded a council ranger's warning to move his trailer advertising his Toronto business, he could have faced a $3000 fine. Picture: Marina Neil
Sign of the times: If Tony Watkins had not heeded a council ranger's warning to move his trailer advertising his Toronto business, he could have faced a $3000 fine. Picture: Marina Neil

LAKE Macquarie business owners have been warned they could be slugged with fines of up to $3000 for using a trailer to advertise on roads, footpaths and nature strips.

Lake Macquarie City Council rangers have begun enforcing the rules of a NSW environmental planning policy that came into effect in March.

The changes introduced include $1500 fines for individuals, and $3000 for businesses, who advertise on trailers parked on roads, footpaths, nature strips and road shoulders, or where trailer advertising is displayed on private land without development consent.

Tony Watkins, the owner of Carey Bay Auto Electrics at Toronto, said he had a registered trailer advertising his business on the side of the road for “years and years.”

“Two weeks ago I got a phone call from the council ranger saying, “Mate, you’re going to have to move that or I’ll have to hit you up for $1500 bucks’,” Mr Watkins said. “It was a big fine, so I thought, ‘Well, I guess I better move it then’.”

Mr Watkins said he understood that the laws had changed, but it was “a pain in the butt.”

“People could see it to know that I’m here – especially in summer, when they might be driving along and wishing they had air-conditioning,” he laughed.

“It’s a shame, because for small businesses, it was a good way to advertise and let local people know what’s available around them.

“If it was in a bad spot I’d understand, but if it’s not stopping the council from mowing the grass, or it’s not on anyone’s lawn, or hindering garbage collection or anything, I don’t see why it’s a big deal.”

Paul Wrigley, the director of Ray White Toronto, had also received a warning regarding his advertising trailers.

“I have some registered trailers that I make available to clients to help them move, and I put some signage on the cages,” he said. “I got a warning saying I had to move them.

“I’m probably a bit biased, because I want them out there. But you are allowed to park a boat on a registered trailer out on the street, so I don’t really see how this is much different.

“The council is consistently inconsistent.”

A Lake Macquarie City Council spokesperson said the changes did not apply to advertising associated with the primary use of a trailer, such as a tradesman using a trailer in the course of their work.

“When a vehicle displays advertising material on public or private land for the primary purpose of advertising or promotion, it requires development consent,” she said.

The changes aimed to improve road safety, reduce driver distractions and ensure that unauthorised signage did not detract from the amenity of an area, or cause damage to public infrastructure, she said. To date, no fines had been issued.

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