Soil fight not over

10/03/2020. MSW. Bacchus Marsh. Rally against Maddingley Brown Coal receiving contaminated/toxic soil from West Gate Tunnel Project. (Shawn Smits) 206150_08

By Jessica Micallef

Sunbury and Bulla residents have vowed to not stop fighting until they know toxic soil from the West Gate Tunnel project will not be sent their way.

The state’s planning minister, Richard Wynne yesterday approved Maddingley Brown Coal and Cleanaway’s Planning Scheme Amendments to receive and store toxic soil from the West Gate Tunnel project in Bacchus Marsh and Ravenhall.

A decision is yet to be made for Hi-Quality’s proposal to send PFAS and asbestos-contaminated soil to the Sunbury Eco-Hub in Bulla.

All three sites’ Environment Management Plans have already been given the green light by the Environment Protection Authority.

Sunbury resident and creator of the Sunbury Against Toxic Soil Facebook group Chris O’Neill said while there was some elation among Bulla and Sunbury residents about the latest decision, the community was not yet out of the woods.

“There is still an active proposal in place,” he said.

“We are disappointed for Bacchus Marsh and Ravenhall but we are still at a risk.

“We could receive this soil as well. We haven’t been told it’s [the soil] not coming.

“We certainly will not stop fighting. We will continue to advocate for Sunbury and Bulla and we won’t stop until we know the soil is not coming here.

“Until the minister sends me a letter saying that Hi-Quality is not going to accept West Gate Tunnel spoil, I and my team will still be fighting this.”

Moorabool council has suggested it will take legal action over the latest decision.

The council’s chief executive Derek Madden said the council was “extremely disappointed” in the decision made.

“It’s our view that the process for considering the application has been flawed as there has not been adequate consultation for a project of this nature, particularly with impacted councils and the community,” he said.

“The whole way through this, council was left in the dark and effectively shut out of the planning decision.

“This means the decision was made without any decent consultation with our community, which is a slap in the face to our Bacchus Marsh residents.”

The council understands that Maddingley Brown Coal needs to submit a new Environment Management Plan (EMP) and local traffic management plan as a part of the approval.

It is then up to Transurban to consider all approved locations and make the final decision as to where the soil will go.