Developing land affected by UXO
Unexploded ordnance (UXO) is ammunition such as artillery shells, mortar bombs and grenades that did not explode when used. UXO is a potential safety risk because it may detonate if disturbed. It may also release chemicals that pose a risk to human health and the environment.
In Queensland, most UXO is found on land formerly used by Australian and Allied Defence Forces for the live firing of explosive ordnance, particularly during World War II.
While explosive ordnance that has been found on land used for the temporary storage and disposal of ammunition has not normally been fired, it is also treated the same as UXO.
What land is affected by UXO?
The Commonwealth's Department of Defence website lists all land in Queensland that has been identified and assessed as having been used by the military in a way that may result in residual UXO on the land. It also includes advice on:
- UXO investigation and remediation contractors or consultants
- landowner indemnification.
It is recommended that a land parcel search is conducted on the Department of Defence website to obtain further details about land that is potentially affected by UXO. It is important that you are aware of the potential for UXO to be present and the risks associated with using the land.
What to do if UXO is found
If you come across an object suspected of being UXO you should:
- not touch or disturb the object
- take action, where appropriate, to prevent it being disturbed by another person
- note its approximate dimensions and general appearance
- note the route to its location
- advise the Police as soon as possible.
When is a development permit required?
If you wish to reconfigure a lot or make a material change of use on land for which an area management advice has been given for UXO, you must lodge a development application with the assessment manager, usually the relevant local government for the land.
An area management advice is a written notice given to an affected local government about planning for, or managing land which may be contaminated due to UXO.
To find out whether a UXO area management advice has been given for land which you wish to develop or use, conduct a land parcel search on the Department of Defence website to see if the land is categorised as having a ‘substantial’ potential to be affected by UXO. If so, an area management advice has been issued for this land.
An area management advice has also been issued for all land in Columboola, in the Western Downs Regional Council area and extends to any road and railway reserves adjoining these allotments.
Once you have lodged a development application with the assessment manager, you will likely be issued with an acknowledgement notice advising you to refer your application to the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA).
SARA is the Queensland Government’s single point for lodgement, coordination and decision-making for development applications involving state jurisdictions under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009.
The Department of Environment and Science (DES) will provide advice to SARA on the matters related to UXO which may result in certain conditions being imposed on the development approval. For example, you may be required to engage with a UXO investigation and remediation contractors or consultants to further investigate and assess the risk of the UXO.