Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Sunbury to voice their disapproval at the proposed dumping of contaminated soil at a site in Bulla.
Protesters, many wearing ‘No Toxic Soil in Sunbury’ T-shirts and others carrying picket signs, gathered at the Village Green beside Sunbury Memorial at noon on Sunday.
Community members and local politicians addressed the crowd before the protestors made their way down Macedon Street before returning to the Village Green.
The Sunbury and Bulla communities have voiced their frustration at the Victorian government over a proposed relocation of contaminated soil from the West Gate Tunnel Project to a site on Sunbury Road in Bulla.
On March 29, Planning Minister Richard Wynne approved Hi-Quality’s planning scheme amendment for the project.
Hume council has approved its lawyers to initiate legal proceedings to review the decision.
Protest organiser and emcee Chris O’Neill told Star Weekly he was pleased with Sunday’s turn-out, which he estimated to be about 500 people.
“I was hoping for those numbers, they all swarmed in,” Mr O’Neill said.
Speaking to the crowd, Mr O’Neill said he opposed the “convoy of toxic soil” that would bring further congestion to Sunbury Road.
Hume councillor Trevor Dance said the number of people in attendance was a show of community strength.
“Look at what the community can do when it wants to,” he said, addressing the crowd.
Hume councillor Jodi Jackson said the protest was about protecting the “health and wellbeing” of residents near contaminated soil sites.
“This isn’t about not wanting this in our backyard, we don’t want this in anyone’s backyard,” Cr Jackson said.
“The state government has a responsibility to look after the health and wellbeing of all Victorians.
Former Greens member for the Western Metropolitan Region Colleen Hartland said the placement of contaminated soil was a statewide issue.
“This is not going to be the only project,” she said.
“The (Environmental Protection Authority) EPA continues not to have the health of local communities at the core of their culture.”
One protester, in attendance with his wife and two children, Michael, said he was concerned that the soil relocation will increase congestion in Bulla because there is “no way around”.
“It’s not like you can say I’ll avoid that road for six months, because you can’t do that,” he said.
In response to the protest, a Hi-Quality spokesperson stated: “We respect the community’s right to voice their views in a responsible way.
“We have heard their concerns and considered them in our plans. Our designs reflect global best practice in safely treating and managing contaminated waste, and we are confident in the quality of our proposal.
“Hi-Quality remains available to discuss any questions or concerns the community may have, and we encourage residents to reach out via www.hiqualityecohub.com.au.”