4 November 2020

Council queries Fyshwick 'fragmentiser' proposal assessment

| Ian Bushnell
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Access Recycling operations

Access Recycling also has scrap metal operations in Adelaide and western NSW. Photo: Supplied.

The ACT Planning Authority’s decision to assess a controversial development application for an upgraded scrap metal operation in Fyshwick under a less onerous path has alarmed inner south community groups.

Access Recycling wants to expand its Lithgow Street metal recycling facility next door with three new processing machines for crushing and cutting of scrap metal and separating of metal from waste.

Inner South Canberra Community Council chair Marea Fatseas said the so-called ‘fragmentiser’ will shred whole cars in the open air near Fyshwick businesses and several hundred metres from homes.

She said the proposal should have been lodged under the tougher Impact Track, which is reserved for developments that have a major impact on the environment, and has the highest level of scrutiny and notification.

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But Ms Fatseas believes the planning authority is using a technicality to keep assessing it under the Merit Track used for most development applications.

She wrote to chief planner Ben Ponton in August querying the assessment path and outlining community concerns.

He replied two months later on 20 October, just after the election, giving reasons for the proposal to stay in the Merit Track.

Mr Ponton said the relevant legislation referred to development proposals for new facilities not components of existing ones.

”The installation of a concrete slab, fence and machinery within the overall operation of an existing recycling facility are not a proposal for ‘a recycling facility’,” he told the council.

”Therefore, the development proposal put forward in DA201935337 does not constitute a recycling facility and consequently does not trigger item 10 of Part 4.2 of Schedule 4 of the Act.”

Mr Ponton denied the application was misleading as it correctly describes the use of the proposed structures as a recycling facility.

”However, this description of the use of the proposed structures is a separate consideration to the applicable assessment track for the proposal and whether item 10 of Part 4.2 of Schedule 4 of the Act applies,” he said.

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But Ms Fatseas insists that the proposal should be assessed so its full impacts could be considered.

”The DA is not just for a few additional bits of machinery and fencing but for a new metals processing facility and so should be considered under the Impact Track, as provided for under schedule 4 of the Planning and Development Act, so that the human health and environmental impact can be assessed adequately,” she said.

Access Recycling’s Adam Perry has said the proposal is simply to modernise a facility that has been on the site for 30 years and that all environmental safeguards are in place and regulated by the Environment Protection Authority.

But the proposal is but one of a number in Fyshwick that have sparked a vociferous campaign by community groups and the Fyshwick Business Association.

Mr Perry is involved in a joint venture with Sydney-based Benedict Industries, Capital Recycling Solutions, that wants to build a household waste processing and recycling plant near the rail line in Ipswich Street, and another Sydney firm Hi-Quality Group wants to develop a massive building and commercial waste operation in Tennant Street.

The community and business campaign drew commitments from all political parties during the election period, particularly the Greens, which called for a moratorium on new waste proposals, and Labor, which announced its opposition to the CRS proposal and stated a preference for waste operations to be co-located in Hume.

The Labor victory, with increased Greens support, will raise community expectations that the new government will review Fyshwick’s future and whether waste processing should be part of it.

Ms Fatseas said that while it was early days the community expected all parties to live up to their election commitments.

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thoughtsonthesubject10:17 pm 07 Nov 20

Some people don’t seem to realize that demographics change. Fyshwick once WAS an industrial estate, but no longer is. It is the place where parents take their kids for violin lessons, the older generations go for bridge parties and where all those shops who can’t afford the rents at shopping centers have found a home ranging from book and antique stores to the best cake shops in Canberra. In its wisdom our government has designated Hume and Mugga Lane for waste and recycling facilities and that is where the fragmentiser and similar machinery should be located.
Fragmentisers produce highly toxic 2.5 particulates and there is a reason why the Queensland Dept. of Environment and Science demands that they are 1.5 km from residences. The ignorance of our administrators of the impact upon health of this machinery will endanger the health not just of people working in Fyshwick but also of children in 3 nearby childcare centers. The lack of appropriate legislation in the ACT is permitting this to occur and arguments from our “planers” abound why the process of approval can’t be stopped.
The first duty of any government is to protect the health of the population and not the profit balance of individual enterprises. My message to the Greens: we’ve elected more of you than ever before because Labor seems incapable to protect our health and the environment. We now rely upon you to take up your mandate and stop this machinery being located where it will harm the health of many people for many years to come.

And some people don’t get that just because demographics might change, doesn’t mean that actual landuses do.

This area is still designated as industrial land.

As for your claims about air quality, there is specific air pollution regulations that cover this. If the proposal doesn’t meet those requirements it would not be allowed.

Most often however, the people who complain about “air quality” impacts, have no idea about what they are talking about. The QLD regulations don’t ban these types of facilities within 1500m of residences, they just require additional studies and controls if they are.

thoughtsonthesubject10:01 pm 08 Nov 20

Had the Impact Track been applied at 15 Lithgow St, then a 1km distance would have been required by ACT law. The distance from this site to existing residences is less than 500m and will be closer when East Lake urban renewal is established from the Causeway to the Monaro Highway. Land uses have changed in Fyshwick which is the point. The earlier Sim’s Metal and the previous landscape supplies at this site have long since established on larger sites in Hume. It’s a myth that the ACT is short of industrial land. Since Fyshwick was the only industrial suburb, industry has expanded into Mitchell, Hume, Symonston and Beard. At Lithgow St there are two recycling operations sub leasing the single block, one crushing concrete with no EPA Authorisation and now this one seeking to introduce further hazardous use onto the lease. This section of Fyshwick has many more long established commercial businesses. Canberra people choose to come to Fyshwick for services and shopping and the land uses have changed away from industrial operations such as the former Shell depot servicing southern NSW from Canberra.
Operating in the open air, the dust air monitoring of these machines is required by ACTPLA to be conducted merely by the proponent and not an independent agent. Moreover, it fails to specify any analysis of the heavy metal content of 2.5 and less particles which being lighter travel further and is what people breathe.
Yes, recycling is essential, but not at a location where it impacts upon the health of people. Especially at Lithgow St. with 3 childcare centers in the vicinity. These are essential facilities for the nearly 14.000 people working in Fyshwick and should be protected from polluting industry.

Link the specific piece of legislation or regulation that specifies a 1000m separation distance.

I’ll wait.

And as for the rest of your comment, it’s either wrong or irrelvant.

The ACT does have a shortage of industrial land and locations close to the rail line (Fyshwick) give additional freight opportunities to connect to the region.

Fyshwick is zoned industrial, the land use hasn’t changed as you’ve claimed.

What has really happened is that because the government has relaxed the rules for the industrial area, more commercial style businesses have propagated in the industrial space.

Conveniently, the people complaining the most would stand to make massive windfall gains on property that they own if the land use was changed to commercial.

But I’m sure that has nothing to do with their complaints.

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