11 September 2020

Labor stance puts planning and business confidence at risk, says Fyshwick waste proponent

| Ian Bushnell
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Capital Recycling Solutions proposed development

An artist’s impression of Capital Recycling Solutions plans for its Ipswich Street site. Image: CRS.

ACT Labor’s surprise pre-election opposition to the proposed Fyshwick waste processing and recycling facility in Ipswich Street threatens to destroy confidence in the planning system, according to the proponent.

Capital Recycling Solutions partner Adam Perry has demanded a meeting with the Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman but the matter has been referred to the Director-General of the Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate because a development application has been lodged and the ACT has entered the pre-election caretaker period.

Chief Planner Ben Ponton said the DA would now be assessed on its merit by the independent planning and land authority, in accordance with the requirements of the Planning and Development Act 2007, the Regulation and the Territory Plan.

In emails to the government seen by Region Media, Mr Perry says CRS is being stonewalled and the issue has become a political football, with serious financial implications.

He says Recycling and Waste Reduction Minister Chris Steel’s pronouncement on the proposal – after its Environmental Impact Statement had been accepted, paving the way for a DA – sent the wrong message to business and put the independence of the planning system in doubt.

”So what happens is when a proposal is submitted in good faith, within the parameters of the law, and then when an election looms, the politicians threaten to take away the independence of the planning directorate, to politicise it instead,” Mr Perry said.

”This sort of behaviour frightens developers and investors … set aside the merits of the project for a moment, there is a bigger issue here, and that’s confidence in the planning system.

”The government is sending a clear message to industry, to developers: that you might go ahead and put in a DA to build something that complies with all of the rules but then if we don’t like it, if it looks like costing us votes, we are going to reach into the Planning Directorate and pull the plug on you anyway, regardless of the planning laws.”

Recycling and Waste Reduction Minister Chris Steel

Recycling and Waste Reduction Minister Chris Steel: proposal a no-go for Labor. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Mr Perry accused the government of refusing to engage and not following due process, and Labor of pre-empting the DA assessment.

He compared the situation to the associated rail terminal approval, which ended up in a multi-million dollar Supreme Court battle which the proponent won, with costs.

”We have followed the Territory planning process. Our recently submitted DA has been predetermined, before it is even on public display, by politicians on the eve of an election,” Mr Perry said.

”There is plain lack of procedural fairness and utter contempt for due process. This sends a significant warning to anyone wanting to do business in the ACT.”

CRS has taken three years and spent millions of dollars getting to the DA stage and believes its EIS has addressed concerns about traffic and odour, but inner south groups and the Fyshwick Business Association have been unmoved, unleashing a fierce pre-election campaign that drew commitments from the ACT Greens and may have contributed to Labor’s position.

CRS wants to divert Canberra’s household waste from landfill, recover recyclables and rail the rest to the Woodlawn bioreactor.

Truck traffic, stockpiling and odour are among concerns raised, as well as fears waste would be needed from interstate to feed the facility, although Mr Perry has consistently denied this would happen.

It also appears bureaucracy and the government is divided on the proposal, with Transport Canberra and City Services and government waste manager NoWaste raising red flags.

The issue has also morphed into a battle for the future of Fyshwick as an authentic industrial suburb or something lighter, with less social and environmental impact.

Other waste proposals such as the massive Hi-Quality project in Tennant Street and Mr Perry’s Access Recycling fragmentiser to shred end-of-life vehicles and other metals in Lithgow Street may now be in doubt.

The Inner South Canberra Community Council and Fyshwick Business Association want the cumulative impact of waste proposals assessed and a planning review of Fyshwick that reflects what they see as its evolving character.

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Capital Retro6:29 pm 13 Sep 20

Perhaps the most repugnant of all waste processing, sewage disposal, takes place in Dairy Flat Road just near the proposed hipster village.

No one seems fazed about that.

OK, if I understand this correctly, nearby residents and the local Fyshwick Business Association were strongly opposed, but as usual Mick Gentleman ignored them and gave the developer the green light. Then just before the election with opposition becoming more vocal, Chris Steel of the ACT Labor government puts things on hold. All the developer has to do is wait until after the election when a reelected Labor/Greens government will resume ignoring the people and let the development proceed.

Capital Retro8:49 am 12 Sep 20

There are no “nearby residents” to this development.

“OK, if I understand this correctly,”

You don’t understand this correctly.

The development complies with all planning requirements, the minister did not personally approve anything and there are no nearby residents.

Doesn’t the Southside Community Association representing a number of suburbs close to Fyshwick affected by this development count as nearby residents?

There are nearby residents in the Southside Village in Symonston and old Narrabundah areas.

Except it’s over 500m to the caravan park residents and more like 1km to Narrabundah.

As we said, there are no nearby residents, not that it matters as the proponent is planning to put in significant levels of controls so they wouldn’t be affected anyway.

It is less than 500m to residents in Symonston and less than 1km to residents in Narrabundah. There are most definitely residents close to the proposal. As to the “significant levels of control” one would have to be pretty naive to fall for that old chestnut.

When did this development get the green light from Gentleman?

There are at least 56 residents in Fyshwick as at last census.
80% Male 20% Female
Also, and more importantly, there would be hundreds of workers in very close proximity to the proposed Fyshwick waste tipping hub being built-up area with future Eastlake residential development to the North.
The proposal, in the wrong location, is on top of an ex-petroleum site to boot.
Apart from odour, toxins, contaminants and noise….. think about the known fire and explosion record associated with tipping and metal recycling sites AND placed on top of an ex-petroleum site…..?
Those nearby workers are covered by a legislated Work Health and Safety Act to ensure their workplaces are safe and not knowingly put at risk by a hazardous and noxious development in close proximity.
In this instance, some would say WorkCover is obliged to investigate foreseeable risk to Workers, Residents and Consumers that this proposal presents – including Airborne Contaminants, Toxins, Fuels and Noise – coupled with known Fire and Explosion risk located on top of an ex-petroleum site.


But it actually matters little as the EIS and all supporting evidence has shown that there would be little to no impacts on any residents.

“As to the “significant levels of control” one would have to be pretty naive to fall for that old chestnut.”

Hmm, yes of course we should take random speculation of a conspiracy from NIMBY’s over the actual science.

There are reams of evidence and professional expertise outlining how potential negative impacts will be adequately controlled. Perhaps you could provide even a shred of evidence showing the opposite?

What’s that? You can’t?

It’s good that the proponent has proposed controls so that the potential risks you think exist won’t negatively affect other residents or workers.

The straw clutching of the native NIMBY is truly something to behold.

Planning and business is not at risk at all by Labor, Green and Libs stance on the CRS Proposal.
The reality is that from the outset, Capital Recycling Solutions pursued the wrong location for its waste tipping hub.
FYSHWICK is essentially an emerging commercial business park with all manner of small business and not a suitable location for a waste tipping and processing hub.
Wrong Location ….as conveyed 3 years ago with a community backlash demonstrated at the Harmonie German club meeting with 100+ concerned locals. And again demonstrated a backlash with 465 EIS submissions that overwhelmingly said NO .
CRS driving a round peg into square hole is the fact..Thousands of voices rallying the same message …NO

Fyshwick is zoned industrial, the proposal complies with all planning requirements.

“FYSHWICK is essentially an emerging commercial business park with all manner of small business and not a suitable location for a waste tipping and processing hub.”

So by “essentially”, you mean except for the actual land use the area is zoned for right?

NIMBY’s don’t get to decide what other people do on their own land, that’s why why have planning rules and regulations.

Which under the current settings, the proposal meets.

If by “nimbys”, you mean almost literally everyone who works in Fyshwick or lives within about five kilometres, sure.

Nobody is disputing that CRS may have a call to do their business here based on the land use, however I would have thought that they would have identified the risks to their development application based on a fairly predictable backlash for building a waste facility this area. If they didn’t, they are idiots, and if they did, then they knew full well what was going to happen.

Chewy14….. the Lease Purpose or Land Use as you say, for 16 Ipswich st says on the Title …an Industry or Industries. ( other than a noxious trade )
A waste tipping processing hub is arguably a Noxious Trade.

“however I would have thought that they would have identified the risks to their development application based on a fairly predictable backlash for building a waste facility this area.”

Um, yes, this is what NIMBYs do, complain about th8ngs they don’t like that might be located near them.

You seem to think that people should get some special attention if they whinge the most. It’s not supposed to work like that.

A waste processing station is not a “noxious trade” and the proponent is putting in significant levels of controls so their operation doesn’t impact nearby residents.

These types of facilities operate everywhere with little to no impact on their neighbours.

Clearly public opinion begs to differ ….that a waste tipping and processing hub in a built area is a “Noxious Trade” and is a hazard.
Odour , leachate runoff in storm events, fire prone, noise…

Firstly, can you point to a poll of “public opinion” showing that the general population disagree with the proposal?

All I’ve seen is whinging from a small band of NIMBYs.

But regardless, it’s good that public opinion actually holds very little weight in this type of planning decision.

You don’t get to control what your neighbours do on their own property as long as they meet all the planning requirements. As this proposal clearly does.

Yep, the ALP and Greens have behaved disgracefully here.

If they didn’t want this type of facility in this location, they’ve had years to signal to industry and change the land use in the area.

The attempts to use this issue to garner votes is as obvious as it is reprehensible.

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