Notification plans for public authorities

Public authorities, such as local councils, government agencies and electricity network State owned corporations must consult their community when developing pesticide use notification plans, and notify their community when they intend to use pesticides in outdoor public places they own or manage such as parks and reserves. From 1 July 2018 this will also include NSW universities.

Public places are areas the public can access with or without paying a fee, and include

  • public gardens
  • picnic areas
  • playgrounds
  • parks, sporting fields and ovals
  • national parks, State forests and Crown land
  • sensitive places, such as hospital, school and TAFE grounds
  • any public land owned or controlled by a public authority, for example, road verges, and rail and electricity easements

A public place does not usually include the inside of any buildings or structures.

Read the legal definition of a public place

Find out more about sensitive places

A pesticide use notification plan

  • lists the public places where a public authority uses pesticides
  • describes ways in which the public authority will notify people about its pesticide use in those places

Public authorities cannot use pesticides in public places unless

  • a pesticide use notification plan has been prepared in consultation with the community
  • the plan has been finalised, advertised and made publicly available
  • notice has been given in accordance with the plan

For help in developing a pesticide use notification plan, download

Where exactly the plan will apply

For example, the plan might state pesticides will be used

  • at 20 local parks and list their names and addresses
  • on all council-managed roads in the area, and provide  a map showing local government area boundaries

Who regularly uses the public places and the level of use 

For example, the plan might say that the public places are frequently used by local families, children, school groups and the general public.

How and when the public authority will notify people about proposed pesticide use in public places 

For example, the plan might say that the council will use newspaper advertisements, web postings, information included with rates notices, mail-outs or signs to give notice of a pesticide application.

The plan must

  • identify the categories of, or specify particular, public places for which the public authority will provide notification of all or only some proposed uses of pesticides
  • identify what those uses are
  • specify the public places for which the public authority does not intend to provide notification

Information to be provided about a pesticide application 

The plan must identify what information will be given to the community when advising them of the intention to use pesticides. The minimum amount of information is

  • where the pesticide will be used
  • the full product name of the pesticide
  • the purpose of the use, for example, to kill noxious weeds
  • the proposed date/s of use – where possible this should be specific, for example, ‘weed spraying in specific streets in the week 1–7 August’, or a range of dates should be provided when an application could take place
  • any warnings on the pesticide label or permit about how long the area must be avoided after a pesticide application
  • the contact details of an officer the community can contact to discuss the notification plan, with their job title or description, and phone number or email address
  • what special notification measures will be used if pesticides are used next to a sensitive place such as a school or hospital, for example, providing notification earlier, in greater detail or in a different form to ensure that the risk of people coming into contact with the pesticide application is minimised

If a pesticide must be used to deal with an emergency near a sensitive place, extra steps should be specified to let people know about it such as knocking on doors.

When the plan will be reviewed

Explain when the plan will be reviewed and ways in which the community can be involved. It is expected all plans will be updated regularly.

The public authority can include additional areas to public places and sensitive sites in the plan if they wish, such as

  • the inside of buildings
  • the extra steps needed to protect places like organic farms when pesticides are used nearby
  • extra information about the pesticide application, for example, whether it will be applied by backpack sprayer, aerial spraying or a spraying vehicle

However, it is not compulsory to include these details in the notification plan.

If a public authority employs contractors to use pesticides in public places or in public places near sensitive sites, the notification plan still needs to be followed. Public authorities must advise lessees or contractors about their notification plan, and are liable if notification is not carried out in accordance with that plan.

Notification plans must be reviewed by the date specified by the public authority when the plan was created. Revised plans must be placed on public exhibition as described in Part 5, Division 2 of the Pesticides Regulation. The plan does not have to be exhibited if the changes are minor (see clause 44).

The EPA suggests that a review should focus on the following issues

  • Does the plan meet the requirements of the Pesticides Regulation?
  • Does the plan meet the needs of the community?
  • Does the plan meet the needs of the users, for example, the pesticide applicators and public authority staff?
  • Have the pesticide use or notification requirements changed?
  • Are the requirements easy to understand?
  • What is the best way to present this information?
  • Publicly announce that a draft notification plan is ready for community input. A notification can be placed prominently on your organisation’s website or advertised in a newspaper. If your notification plan covers areas throughout NSW the notice should be in a state-wide newspaper. If your notification plan covers only a specific local area or areas, the notice should be placed in a newspaper that circulates generally in those areas. You do not have to limit your announcement to only the website or one newspaper – this is the minimum notice that you need to give. The notice must specify the area in which the plan is to operate.
  • Specify in the notice where the plan will operate and where the draft plan will be displayed. Make sure it can be viewed during office hours, free of charge, and is on the website.
  • Include details about how the community can provide their comments and how long they will have. At least four weeks must be provided after the notice is published in the newspaper.
  • Ensure there is enough time to receive and consider comments from the community and make any subsequent changes to the plan

Once the final notification plan is ready, public authorities must

  • announce where the plan will operate and where it can be viewed in the NSW Government Gazette
  • publish this announcement prominently on the organisation’s website or in the same type of newspaper used to publish the notice for the draft notification plan
  • write to the EPA confirming that the plan has been reviewed in accordance with the Pesticides Regulation

The plan must be made available to the public for inspection free of charge at the public authority's main office and be placed on their website.

Most public authorities, including local councils and State government agencies, provide a schedule of pesticide application on their website and will also contact owners of affected properties by phone or mail to notify them of an upcoming pesticide application.

Sensitive site owners generally receive earlier notification so they have time to arrange to avoid exposure to pesticides, especially if there are children or sensitive people on the site.

To find out which pesticides are used on public land, check the relevant public authority’s website and read the pesticide use notification plan. The plan provides details of a contact person for further information.

Penalties may apply where

  • pesticides have been used in a prescribed public place but a notification plan has not been developed and displayed in accordance with the Regulation
  • notification was not carried out in accordance with the plan
  • the public authority employed a contractor to use pesticides who did not notify the community according to the plan

The following fines could apply

  • on-the-spot penalty notice fines of $800 for corporations or $400 for individuals
  • court-imposed fines of up to $44,000 for corporations and of up to $22,000 for individuals
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