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.
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.
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.
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.