10 May 2021

Fyshwick recycling future clouded as proposal site goes on market

| Ian Bushnell
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Recycling site in Fyshwick

The Ipswich Street site in Fyshwick where a recycling plant had been proposed. Photos: Michelle Kroll.

The Canberra company involved in the bid for a recycling plant in Fyshwick is reassessing its future in the light industrial suburb and may even move to Goulburn in the wake of legislation blocking the proposal and limiting the expansion of already-established waste businesses in the area.

Access Recycling had joined with Sydney-based firm Benedict Industries to propose the plant in Ipswich Street but, after several years and millions of dollars of investment, fell foul of a vigorous community campaign and the ACT election, at which all the major parties came out against the proposal and expansion of recycling activity in general in Fyshwick.

The large Ipswich Street site is now on the market, attracting strong interest, and the consortium, Capital Recycling Solutions, is in early talks with the government about its costs. It is hoping for an agreeable settlement instead of a potential legal battle.

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Access Recycling has a nearby scrap metal operation in Fyshwick, but a bruised managing director Adam Perry says plans for the business are up in the air because of the legislation, which would limit its growth.

Access has a DA approval to build a fragmentiser to shred whole car bodies, but he is contemplating a move to Hume or Goulburn where the business might be more welcome.

That would be a win for the community groups and the Fyshwick Business Association that fought the recycling plant and oppose the fragmentiser on health and noise grounds and argue that, like the Ipswich Street plant, it would no longer fit with an evolving less-industrial Fyshwick.

Mr Perry says he has approached the government and the community and the Association about what incentives or assistance could be given to relocate to Hume, the government’s now preferred home for recycling, but there has been no response.

“They are quick to attack, all these people and the government, but no one is quick to say, ‘well that’s a great idea, let’s see what we can do to help you move to Hume’,” he said.

“That metal shredder DA took two years to get approved, and we’re ready to build it. But now I’m thinking, maybe it’s not the right idea, maybe we shouldn’t.”

As it is, Mr Perry says the government’s actions have made it harder for business to invest in Canberra by raising the risk level and shredding trust.

Ipswich site

Another view of the Ipswich Street site.

Benedict Industries has dumped Canberra for more business-friendly places such as Newcastle and Wollongong, and Mr Perry says moving to Hume will be expensive, and he is concerned that the goalposts might change again.

He says a faster DA process or land tax or rates incentives could smooth the way for a move.

“Time is everything in business, not just the money you spend. You’d rather go to the other places where councils or government are more keen to see some improvement and spend less time worrying about places where you’ve got to fight tooth and nail every inch of the way,” he said.

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Mr Perry said he could move the entire business to Goulburn where there is a better approvals pathway, trucking scrap metal from Canberra down the highway and then loading it on to rail to Port Botany. But he remains concerned about Canberra’s growing landfill problem and that little is being done about it.

“Landfill per person per annum is incredibly high and approaching one tonne per person per annum,” Mr Perry said.

“You’ve got a huge amount of rubbish going on to the side of the hill at Mugga Lane and by truck to Woodlawn, and no one is recycling.”

Access is not the only recycling operation in Fyshwick with a cloud hanging over it. The Hi-Quality group wants to massively expand its business in Tennant Street. It has submitted an Environmental Impact Statement to the planning authority, but the legislation may curtail those plans.

Comment was sought from Hi-Quality.

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ACT resident8:09 am 17 May 21

Because a land use such as a major waste facility is allowable does not mean its appropriate for the site. CRS always told the government and community that its freight facility plus rail terminal was a standalone without the MRF.

ACT resident11:21 pm 11 May 21

It is unrealistic for the Canberra community to pay for a company’s poor commercial decisions. The risks for CRS, newly registered in 2014 with its current three directors sharing 1,000 shares at $1 per share, was that the ACT did not accept Waste to Energy incineration at Fyshwick and their backer, ActewAGL abandoned the partnership. There was never a signed agreement to freight 80% of CRS waste by rail to Veolia Woodlawn landfill – hardly successful recycling, regardless. NSW interests now back an intermodal within that state. Access Recycling metal fragmentising would from the start have better located in Goulburn given their widespread collection area and the availability of operational freight terminal facilities. Proposals are a developer’s gamble.

True, but it should also be remembered that prior to the government taking a relatively extraordinary step of legislating to stop particular types of land use, what they were proposing was entirely within existing planned uses for the locations. Its on this basis that they should get some form of compensation.

So you think a government retrospectively changing legislation to prevent a development is a reasonable example of poor commercial decisions by a company?


In reality, it’s a perfect example of a government who doesn’t know how to plan properly and who has deliberately increased investment risk for businesses across the territory.

It’s perfectly reasonable for the company to be compensated, whether through direct negotiation or legal remedy.

HiddenDragon7:51 pm 11 May 21

“…Capital Recycling Solutions, is in early talks with the government about its costs. It is hoping for an agreeable settlement instead of a potential legal battle.”

Presumably not all that much in the scheme of things, but another potential bill for ACT taxpayers to pick up because, true to form, the ACT Government failed to foresee (or thought it could bluff and spin its way through), something which was utterly foreseeable.

Reuse, recycle, reduce – This recycling plant must have a place somewhere.

This business proposal was totally inappropriate for Fyshwick. They would have killed many Fyshwick businesses by clogging up the roads which are already overloaded at some intersections. Oh, and then there’s the environmental concerns for this already heavily contaminated site.

The business proposal was totally in line with the current land use of Fyshwick and the planning frameworks that exist.

Convenient that these other businesses you mention have now just been successful in using political pressure and NIMBYism to benefit themselves financially with a quasi land use change for the area.

But I suppose that was just a coincidence.

Bollocks. It was entirely in line with the current land use for Fyshwick as Chewy says. But all convenient and nice now the NIMBYs have won hey?

A giant fragmentising metal shredder is not the right idea for any built up area.
Other states stipulate a 1200 meter Separation due to Health and Safety requirements..

If you repeat a lie many times, it becomes the truth?

You’ve been explained to multiple times that the claim around a mandated 1200m separation distance is incorrect, yet here you are repeating the lie once more.

Other states…
page 13 of the Queensland Best practice environmental management guideline for scrap metal recycling facilities operating fragmentisers – effective 1 July 2019.


Were you trying to make my point for me? Nowhere in that document does it stipulate a minimum separation distance as a requirement of approval.

In fact it specifically outlines the control measures and studies that would be required to determine the approval.

You know, the exact studies that this development proposal conducted as part of their assessment for a facility located in an industrially zoned area?

The studies that found it met all requirements with the appropriate controls?

If you want to attempt to use these types of documents and planning regulations, perhaps you should read and understand them first?

Capital Retro5:13 pm 10 May 21

All that was needed to get approval was to call it a pop-up, have lots of EV charging points, e-scooter docking and paint it all in rainbow colours. It would have been called-in and approved immediately.

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