The Planning and Land Authority has conditionally approved a proposal for a $1.2 million rail freight terminal in Fyshwick to be operated by the company wanting to build a waste recycling facility nearby.
ACTPLA is at pains to point out that this approval is separate to Capital Recycling Solution’s proposed Materials Resource Facility that would recover recyclables from waste that would normally go to the Mugga Lane tip, for which an Environment Impact Study is still being assessed.
This proposal for the site on Ipswich Street involved two development applications – for driveways at the Lithgow Street entry and Ipswich Street exit, a concrete slab, a 440 metre long hardstand along the rail line and other works, and attracted 59 representations concerned about traffic, noise, environmental impact, and questioning whether a rail freight terminal was even allowed on the site.
Delegate George Cilliers said the proposed use of the site was permissible under its present zoning and the Territory Plan, and ACTPLA had imposed a range of conditions.
These included traffic lights at the Ipswich Street exit, a line of semi-mature trees to screen the facility from Ipswich Street, the company’s proposed noise wall to be in place before certificate of Occupation and Use is issued, site remediation and outside lighting.
All driveways and traffic management works must meet Transport Canberra and City Services design rules, a water main needs to be relocated and work must be done to deal with stormwater runoff.
Mr Cilliers said the cost of these conditions would be met by the proponent.
He reiterated that these approvals had no connection with the MRF proposal and the EIS the company had submitted.
“The approvals are for a rail freight terminal and a hardstand with associated works not what the EIS is designed for,” he said. “The EIS is a separate process and ongoing and we will continue assessing and considering that, and make a decision in due course.
“Depending on the outcome there may be a further DA. There will be an opportunity for the community to comment on the EIS down the track if it gets support.”
Fyshwick business representative Rob Evans said it was a deliberate strategy of CRS to submit separate DAs for the different components of the overall recycling operation.
He said it remained a mystery how what was essentially a rail operation could be approved for a zone that prohibited rail use.
But the main gripe of nearby businesses was the traffic increase created by freight trucks on Ipswich Street.
“On traffic alone it should be prohibited, the last thing we need is B-doubles with containers on a major thoroughfare where they’re going to have to put in an extra set of traffic lights in a really dangerous spot,” he said.
CRS says that the rail freight terminal is independent of its plans for the MRF and would operate whether it goes ahead or not. Open 6 am to 10 pm Monday to Saturday and 8 am to 2 pm on Sundays, it would receive 10 trucks a day on average, or one an hour, entering the site via Lithgow Street and exiting on to Ipswich street.
Director Adam Perry said CRS would work through the conditions, which did not look too onerous.
The screen trees were unexpected but I think that’s a good thing. We welcome that’, he said.
He said the company would proceed as soon as it could and was already in advanced talks with a couple of rail operators keen to divert freight being moved by road to rail.
The NSW Government had rolled over the $1 million grant for the rail line to be upgraded to carry freight, so it remained available.
“Every capital city in Australia has a railway freight terminal. Many small towns in NSW have one, specifically for shipping containers, including Goulburn, Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Werris Creek, Tamworth and even the tiny towns of Ganmain and Harefield,” he said.
“It’s terrific that we are a step closer to getting one built in Canberra, so that important exports of containerised freight can go directly to the port by rail – finally.”
He said the traffic report had said the impacts would be negligible.
Mr Perry said the c0mpany remained hopeful about the MRF proposal and believed the EIS process was getting close to a conclusion, with ACTPLA requesting clarification of particular issues.
CRS originally wanted to operate a waste-to-energy plant at the Ipswich Street site beside the rail line but bowed to community concerns about emissions and air quality, shelving that plan in favour of recovering recyclables from waste bound for the Mugga Lane tip. They would be shipped by rail to Port Botany, while the waste residue would go to the Woodlawn bioreactor.