A heritage listed house on the Derwent River in Hobart was demolished last month without a permit, despite attempts by neighbours and other authorities to intervene. The 1890s built house contained significant asbestos, but demolition continued despite the local council issuing ‘stop work’ notices.

Asbestos demolition without proper safety process

Neighbours became concerned when they noticed a group of men arrive on the property and start using chainsaws to cut down trees on the property, including a 160 year old Irish Yew tree. Soon after, the men began demolition work on the house.

According to one neighbour, the demolition work was not carried out in ‘any sort of controlled manner’ but rather ‘[t]he guy just got his excavator off the truck and just started smashing the house to pieces.’

For the safety of builders and neighbours councils require that any asbestos-containing building products be removed and disposed of by professionals prior to demolition taking place.

The developer in this instance is now facing court action, including a potential development ban for a period of ten years.

The council has promised to ‘throw the full force of everything we can against this developer.’ Lord Mayer Sue Hickey has said regarding the unlicensed demolition of the property, that ‘we have these strong rules. It’ll be up to the court to decide what happens. But we need this to deter other people doing such stupid and foolish acts and endangering their neighbours.’

Although asbestos has not been used in new building products manufactured in Australia since the late 1980s, existing asbestos-containing building products are still commonly found in houses across Australia.

If you believe you may have been exposed to asbestos you should speak with your doctor. If you are suffering from an asbestos related illness you should also seek legal advice from one of our specialist dust diseases lawyers on 13 43 63.