11 January 2024

Group faces legal hurdle in bid to overturn crematorium approval

| Ian Bushnell
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Pamela Collett with a massive tree nicknamed the Survivor: “We have a responsibility to protect this kind of habitat.” Photo: Friends of Callum Brae Nature Reserve.

The ACT Planning Authority is challenging whether a community group can apply to have its approval of a proposed crematorium overturned in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The Planning Authority has conditionally approved the proposal, to be built on 10 ha of land in Symonston next to the Callum Brae Nature Reserve.

But the potential loss of critically endangered Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland, including 15 trees used for foraging by the endangered Swift parrot, prompted a campaign from the Friends of Callum Brae Nature Reserve to stop the development.

The group went to ACAT in December, but the Planning Authority questioned the standing of the group and two others who oppose the development.

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Friends spokesperson Pamela Collett said the Planning Authority now had to submit its reasons by 19 January and the group’s arguments by 2 February for a hearing the following week.

Ms Collett said the Friends’ action was not frivolous and ACAT had already advised that if it had an interest in the proposal, it could apply for a review of the decision.

She said the proposal had instigated two petitions attracting more than 800 signatures and 150 submissions.

Multinational funeral services company InvoCare is behind the development, which will include two electric cremators, a chapel, a caretaker’s residence, a 100-space car park and two new driveways.

It was recently bought out by global private equity giant TPG (Texas Pacific Group).

Approval conditions include the preservation of some or all of the 15 trees used by the Swift parrot or, if removal is unavoidable, the trees be compensated to ensure that fragmentation of the Swift parrot habitat does not occur.

But Ms Collett said this was nonsense as more than 100-year-old trees with hollows were irreplaceable.

“You take out any of those trees, and they’re critically endangered, each of them is over 100 years old, it takes about 100 years to make a hollow,” she said.

The site all up contained 106 hollow bearing trees and was a likely breeding habitat for Gang Gang Cockatoos.

The proponent must also submit an environmental management plan, but Ms Collet said it was not a project that could be managed to avoid the destruction of critically endangered woodland, wildlife habitat or impacts on the surrounding area.

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She said there would still be particulate matter emitted from the facility even if other emissions can be reduced, and impacts from lighting and noise.

“This is one of the most important wildlife corridors between Callum Brae Nature Reserve, Red Hill, Mugga and Isaac Ridge,” Ms Collett said.

“This is one of the last healthy stands of these particular trees in Australia. We have a responsibility to protect this kind of habitat.”

Ms Collett said the proposal should have been assessed on the Impact track instead of the Merit track so a full environmental impact statement was required.

She said the site was not big enough for such a development, which would inevitably damage Callum Brae, and the Friends would like the land to be incorporated into the Nature Reserve.

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A crematorium is an inappropriate use for this area which has much significant natural and cultural heritage. If this was Melbourne such a development would not be allowed on its urban fringe as that Sate has specific policies about what is appropriate in its ‘Green wedge’ areas. Unfortunately none of this has any bearing on the ACAT case. Surely the group that made submissions on the DA has standing – just another bullying tactic by ACTPLA’s lawyers?

Capital Retro4:11 pm 09 Jan 24

Using that same logic, why is all the waste in Canberra and surrounding towns (including fish guts from the South Coast) still being dumped at the MLRMC just a couple of kilometers down Mugga Lane?

There is also a huge odour emitting compost factory at the facility as well as unmonitored dust generation from recycling gypsum and other building materials nearby and a landfill gas to electricity generator next to a storage dam on Jerrabomberra Creek which is still draining the old chromium chemical saturated site of Koppers Logs in Hume?

There is a public crematorium already sited a little further down the road so lets pile on every nasty little unseen and unspoken about thing the ACT government can find in the general area.

An Ecologist1:51 pm 09 Jan 24

We are in the biodiversity crisis, worse than the climate crisis, right here right now. This shows why. Even a beautiful bird, which is listed as threatened, can not garner support of either the ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna, or the ACT Minister for the Environment, or the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment, sufficient to save the nests where its population is renewed. So what hope is there for ugly species, and species not listed as threatened but which keep ecosystems functioning?

William Newby10:00 pm 09 Jan 24

Not to mention all the gas required to fire up the kiln, next the Greenies will be howling at the moon over the carbon footprint these deceased people will be generating.
Labor have done this to themselves, their is land in every direction that we look, but Labor have chosen to make it impossible to operate in this Territory/fantasy land of theirs.

Capital Retro7:16 am 10 Jan 24

To be fair, the new crematorium will have 2 x electric cremators (not gas) but if the facility operators are compelled to use unreliable renewable electricity they will have to have a standby diesel generator to cover contingencies.

A crematorium is bad for air quality. Who would want one near them.

On the other hand. the group just shot itself in the foot. The group of birds needs 100 year old trees, these tree’s wont last forever neither will the birds. they are just delaying the inevitable.

What is the 100 year plan for these birds. Are the next batch of 100 year old tree’s ready once these die?

That said the government is really two faced on its tree policy. One rule for me and another for you.

No these trees won’t last forever, but others are growing at the same time. We all die eventually, but does that mean we shouldn’t do what we can to preserve life for as long as possible, allowing time for reproduction and adaptation? There’s no reason to assume that saving these trees is just delaying the inevitable.

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