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.
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.
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.