Soil vote ‘kick in the guts’


Oliver Lees

A last-gasp bid to revoke the planning scheme that would allow the transfer of contaminated soil to a site in Bulla failed in state Parliament last week.

Western Metropolitan MP Bernie Finn sought a majority vote to revoke the Hume planning scheme amendment that could allow the transport of thousands of trucks of soil from the Westgate Tunnel Project (WTP) arrive at a purpose built facility on Sunbury Road.

Mr Finn said he disapproved of the dumping of PFAS contaminated soil at the Hi-Quality site in Bulla because of its proximity to residential housing.

“That’s what this motion is about, It’s not about the west gate tunnel, it’s not about infrastructure, it’s about the health of tens of thousands of my constituents,” Mr Finn said.

“They [members of parliament] have admitted there is a risk, but they’re more than happy to take it, because none of them live near Sunbury.”

The motion was defeated 17 to 20 votes.

Sunbury Against Toxic Soil Facebook group admininstrator Chris O’Neill said the decision was “a kick in the guts”.

“We’re really disappointed, we thought it was going to be close and we tried our hardest,” Mr O’Neill said.

“We were in constant contact with crossbench MPs but unfortunately it didn’t go our way.”

Mr O’Neill said that Sunbury and Bulla residents had thrown their support behind the motion, with more than 650 community members sending emails to relevant ministers to plead their case.

Speaking against the motion, Western Metropolitan MP Cesar Melhem said the state government had appropriately engaged the community.

“I am not discounting for a moment the concerns of our citizens in Sunbury and whether it is in Caroline Springs or Bacchus Marsh,” Mr Melhem said, in reference to the three communities that could receive soil from the WTP.

“I believe they have been addressed, but any further work to be done in relation to addressing these concerns absolutely should happen and will continue to happen.

“We can talk about there being no consultation, but there has been a lot of consultation.”

In April, Hume council mayor Joseph Haweil said the lack of consultation from the Victorian government was “beyond belief”, and the council has since initiated legal proceedings against the planning scheme amendment.

Hume council’s Supreme Court challenge will be heard in July.

Transurban is expected to select one or more sites for the relocation project later this year.