Impounding Review


The NSW state government is in the process of reviewing the Impounding Act, 1993.

The object of the Act is to empower authorised persons (such as Council rangers) to impound and deal with (dispose of) animals and articles left in public places.

The main types of objects currently subject to being impounded include:

  • Animals
  • Shopping trolleys
  • Motor vehicles
  • Boat trailers, and
  • Shared devices (such as share bikes, scooters and the like).


By and large, the current regulations relating to the impounding of animals in an urban area generally seem to be adequate.


Abandoned shopping trolleys continue to be problematic. Only large retail stores are required to fit devices that limit a ‘feral’ trolley to within a shopping centre. Even this does not fully restrict trolleys as the technology used sometimes fails and the shopping giants seem reluctant to fix them. The requirement that anyone reporting an abandoned is required to identify the owner of the trolley means many feral trolleys are not reported. More trolleys would be reported if all that was need was a call to a central number to report their location.


The process of impounding an ‘abandoned’ motor vehicle, whilst lengthy, seems to work reasonably well.


A regularly occurring problem is that of vehicles obstructing driveways. The process under section 16 of the Impounding Act is protracted, whereas there is an immediate need to remove or impound an obstructing vehicle. What is needed is a process similar to that used for the removal of vehicles’ from a Clear Way.

Impounding Act


An impounding officer may impound an article found in the officer’s area of operations if the officer believes on reasonable grounds that the article has been abandoned or left unattended. Section 16 affects this if the article is a motor vehicle.

 Note. The Local Government Act 1993 gives a council power to order the removal of an object or matter that is causing or likely to cause an obstruction.

 A reading of the Local Government Act does not reveal any such powers for a Council to removean object causing obstruction.


  • An impounding officer must make all reasonable inquiries in an effort to find out the name and address of the owner of a motor vehicle before the officer impounds the vehicle.


A motor vehicle within the meaning of the Road Transport Act 2013, includes a caravan, boat trailer or other trailer (whether or not attached to a motor(ised) vehicle). In NSW a heavy vehicles (4.5 tonnes or more GVM) or long vehicles (7.5 metres or longer) must not stop on a length of road In a built up area for longer than one hour (buses excepted).

The majority of complaints against boat trailers seemed to relate to the length of time they spent parked in the same spot (hence the current legislation to move the trailer every 28 days and attempts by Councils to implement parking restriction for boat trailers).

Apart from occupancy, two other issues remain – the width and height of a vehicle parked in a built-up area. Excessive width can pose a traffic obstruction. Height can reduce residential amenity.  Thought should be given to address this issue.

From an equity perspective, it seems unreasonable that any ‘non-heavy’ registered vehicle should be treated any differently from another. All have paid registration fees.


Consideration could be given to banning other than battery powered devices. An operator should be more timely in collecting and redeploying a battery operated device that would be inoperable if not charged.

The deployment station for devices should be regulated by Councils.  Devices, outside of their deployment station, left uncollected for more than 24 hours should be able to be impounded.

Have your say

There are three ways you can provide your feedback:

Have your say by 20 March 2020.



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