Council opposes toxic soil bid


By Jessica Micallef

Hume council has opposed a request to amend the Hume Planning Scheme and send toxic soil to Bulla.

In an official response to Planning Minister Richard Wynne, the council said the proposal had no community benefit, there had been inadequate consultation and it raised traffic and safety concerns on Sunbury Road.

“Hume council does not support this proposal, the community does not support this proposal and the Minister for Planning should not support this proposal,” Cr Leigh Johnson said.

“The growing community concern since the proposal first became public is a testament to the lack of transparency.”

Hi-Quality recycling services has requested to amend the planning scheme to allow soil from the West Gate Tunnel project to be stored, tested and disposed of at the Sunbury Eco-Hub on Sunbury Road, Bulla.

The company has asked that the amendment be exempt from public exhibition and be considered by an independent planning panel.

The council received a letter from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, on behalf of Mr Wynne, on July 29, seeking its views on the request for an amendment by August 19. The council received an extension to respond by September 9.

Cr Leigh Johnson said he looked forward to continuing to support the community in its fight against the proposal.

“This proposal needs a transparent process that ensures the community and the council can have their say.

“I continue to encourage the community in Hume, particularly in Sunbury, Bulla and Wildwood to, to raise their concerns.”

Deputy mayor Jack Medcraft said it was disappointing locals could not publicly protest against the proposal to send soil to Bulla.

“If there is a problem, get out there and make it be heard, but we can’t because we are not allowed [because of COVID-19 restrictions],” he said.

“So we have taken the step of bringing it up in council meetings.

“How can a minister come in and make a decision without any ramification or care as to how it is going to affect the local residents?”

Earlier this month, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) approved Hi-Quality’s Environment Management Plan to send soil to the Bulla site. The EPA also approved Maddingley Brown Coal’s EMP in its bid to process the soil in Bacchus Marsh.

The approval of an EMP does not mean a final decision has been made on where the soil would be sent. The site still needs approval from the state planning minister.

Transurban, the site operators of the West Gate Tunnel Project, will decide where the soil is to be processed.