Hume City kicks back on proposed clean fill extension

Councillors voted to water down the positive tone of its response to Sonya Kilkenny, Minister for Planning, in its feedback to a proposed extension of Hi-Quality’s West Gate Tunnel spoil facility in Sunbury Rd. Its license to accept spoil from project is to end this year, but the firm wants to carry on until 2048.

An amendment to the draft letter, prepared by council officers, was raised by Aitken ward Cllr Joseph Haweil at Monday’s meeting (25 March 2024). He asked that a line in the draft letter:

That [council] Does not object to the strategic intent of the proposed amendment…be removed. Download the unamended / draft letter here.

Cllr Joseph Haweil’s motion to amend the letter to minister Sonya Kilkenny. (5m12s)

Prior to the amendment being accepted by councillors, Cllr Jarrod Bell expressed his concern over the extension, announcing he was speaking as a representative of Sunbury, “…not as a member of the responsible planning authority [the council]”.

He said: “We are not interested in a decision [by the minister] that does not listen, that does not take our concerns into account, or a decision that does not put the welfare, employment opportunities, and quality of life of our residents first,” he said.

Cllr Jarrod Bell’s full speech opposing the extension of Hi-Quality spoil facility license. (5m32s)

“In 2021, Sunbury and Bulla played our part and we did our bit. Despite our clear wish to not be the case. We took the soil from the West Gate Tunnel project, we managed the additional traffic, and we managed the additional risk. We’ve done our bit, and I declare that our job should be done.

“I note this amendment seeks among other things to remove the restriction that only the soil from the West Gate Tunnel be received. I saw that restriction as a promise, or a guarantee, from the then minister [for Planning] and Hi-Quality, that once this experience was over there would be no further heavy lifting asked of our community.”

Cllr Dance spoke next, and what followed was a heated exchange with mayor Naim Kurt for breaching the council’s three minute rule.

Cllr Dance interrupted at 3m, 3m40s, and again at 4m14s, by chair mayor Naim Kurt.

Cllr Dance said: “Hi-Quality’s licence to take spoil was for a short time frame. Now they want spoil from every big project around Melbourne and beyond, and to expand this short-term licence for another 24 years.

“What do the homeowners of Redstone, Kingsfield, and Maplestone – which is already within the current buffer zone [of the site] – now think of a temporary spoil site that was to end in 2024? Disbelief, of course. Possibly betrayed by Hi-Quality and the government. Does anyone care? Yes. I do.

“If the minister does allow this then it finally cements Sunbury and Bulla as the number one dumping towns in Victoria, and this would have all happened under MP Josh Bull’s Watch.”

Cllr Dance said Sunbury and Bulla were part of the gateway to the Macedon Ranges.

“Now you are greeted by a dust bowl and trucks,” he said. “The government has destroyed this gateway, and now if this [extension] goes ahead it will be final nail in the coffin.”

…If the minister does allow this then it finally cements Sunbury and Bulla as the number one dumping towns in Victoria…

He also reminded those present that Hi-Quality is facing 33 charges laid against it by the EPA.

Cllr Jack Medcraft supported the adoption of the letter following (Cllr Haweil’s) amendment, and claimed that some in the community – who don’t want anything to do with Hi-Quality’s facility – have used it.

His request for a list (division) on which way each councillor voted was dismissed by mayor Kurt as it was out of time.

Cllr Jack Medcraft.

After the meeting, Cllr Dance said the proposed extension to 2048 for the spoil facility will delay the collection of infrastructure contributions to council, which he says is around $12.6m today. It will be paid when the land is redeveloped.

“Even if councillors support the officer’s recommendation to not agree to Hi-Quality’s request. Minister Kilkenny can still ignore the council and do whatever the minister wants to do,” said Cllr Dance.

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The State minister for planning is to decide if Hi-Quality can keep its Sunbury Rd spoil facility open until 2048. It was to close this year. What's your message to her?

 

Sunbury Life has previously reported on Hi-Quality’s recent announcements, including those for a waste-to-energy plant at its Sunbury Rd site.

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