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House: excavation had no permission

Human remains found close to the 19th century Watford Island Military Cemetary (File photograph)

An excavation at an old cemetery for military personnel and convicts that disturbed bones was carried out without permission, the Minister of Home Affairs, told Parliament.

Walter Roban added that there were no guidelines for when human remains are dug up during construction, even when permission had been obtained.

But he said plans are being drawn up among government departments to ensure no repeat incidents.

He was speaking after human remains were uncovered at the former military and convict cemetery in Sandys during work at the Sandys Sail Boat Club.

Mr Roban criticised a “build now and ask for forgiveness later” attitude by some developers, which included heavy machinery digging in a historic protection area and the building of an industrial warehouse in a residential zone.

He promised that legal amendments passed this year will give the Department of Planning extra teeth to take action against unauthorised developments.

New planning regulations include disallowing retroactive planning permission when development has been carried out in breach of planning control unless applicants can prove they were unaware or not responsible for the breach.

A “planning contravention notice” can also be served requesting more information from people carrying out “any activity” on a property, while a “breach of condition notice” would require the recipient to comply with the law inside a set time period.

Mr Roban added a “stop notice” has replaced the old special enforcement notice“ which required “the immediate cessation of any development”.

To read Walter Roban’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”