Spoil extension frustration

(Damjan Janevski). 228421_01

Tara Murray

Sunbury and Bulla will be the “number one dumping town in Victoria” if Hi-Quality is allowed to extend its licence to accept spoil according to a Sunbury councillor.

The minister for planning wrote to Hume council last month, seeking its views on making changes to the Hume Planning Scheme, to allow the Bulla Spoil Processing Facility to process and dispose of spoil from Big Build projects and other infrastructure projects.

Currently, only spoil from Big Build is accepted at the site and that is set to end on April 1.

Under the proposed changes Hi-Quality is seeking to remove the existing limitation that spoil must come from the West Gate Tunnel project and extend the lifetime operations for a further 24 years until 2048.

Hume council in its response outlined a number of concerns with the proposed amendment.

It requested changes be made and are seeking Hi-Quality to make infrastructure contributions including a financial contribution towards the Bulla Bypass or any other project that would ease pressure on the Bulla Bridge, requests that Hi-Quality make a financial contribution towards a fund similar to the Sunbury and Bulla Neighbourhood Fund and seeks a commitment for the timing and delivery of the Bulla Bypass if the amendment is successful.

Jackson Creek ward councillors Jarrod Bell and Trevor Dance said they were both speaking not only as councillors, but as Sunbury residents.

“We are not interested in a decision that does not listen, that does not take our concerns into account, or a decision that does not put the welfare or employment opportunities and quality of life of our residents [on the cards],” Cr Bell said.

‘We did our bit and despite our clear wish to not be the case, we took the soil from the West Gate tunnel.

“Now I declare that our job should be done. I saw that [time] restriction as a promise or a guarantee from the then minister and Hi-Quality that once this experience was over, there would be no further lifting asked of our community.”

Cr Bell said they wanted to ensure that both the state government and Hi-Quality listened to their concerns.

He said it wasn’t in the public’s best interest to fast track this process without providing the community the chance voice their views.

Cr Dance said the promises they fought hard for could now be broken.

“Now they want to (take spoil) from every big project around Melbourne… to expand this short term licence for another 24 years,“ he said.

“What about the homeowners of Redstone, Kingsfield and Maplestone now thinking about a temporary spoil site, now extending to possibly 2048.

“If the minister does allow this it finally cements in my view, Sunbury, Bulla as the number one dumping town in Victoria.”

Councillor Joseph Haweil recommended and was supported by his fellow councillors, to remove the line from the council response, that it doesn’t object to the strategic intent of the proposed amendment, saying they need further information before making that decision.

Hi-Quality confirmed that they have put in an application.

“With Victoria’s significant construction pipeline underway, there is a need for safe and responsible processing of material being excavated from these projects. As such, Hi-Quality is proposing to extend its current permissions to enable the facility to accept material from any infrastructure or construction project until 2048.

“Hi-Quality has in the past advised that while current approvals are specific to one project, we would always assess opportunities to continue our operations if there was a need for the facility. Extending our approvals does not mean we would necessarily accept all waste from major projects. It simply means we are an option so the large volumes of soil being excavated can be handled safely and effectively.

“We are committed to engaging with the community throughout this process to understand and respond to their concerns.”

The state government was contacted.