Clock is Ticking for Batching Plant

Ticking Clock

There has been an interesting development in relation to the proposed concrete batching plant which could potentially save the residents from having this noxious industry on their doorstep. It relates to the customary 2 year approval period granted to most developments. Despite repeated council and community concerns, the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) decided to grant approval for a concrete batching plant in Bayswater in 2014. In May 2015 revised plans were presented to council and these plans subsequently went to SAT because the council refused the new plans.

In November 2015, whilst SAT were in discussions on the revised plans, a number of us wrote to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) requesting that they conduct a full environmental assessment. SAT were then required to put down their rubber stamp whilst the EPA considered these requests. In March 2016 the EPA announced they would not conduct an environmental assessment, and as written about previously, some of us then wrote to the Appeals Convenor to request that the Minister for Environment, Hon Albert Jacob MLA,  direct the EPA to reconsider their decision.

This process is still going and in every likelihood will take a few months. If it pushes past the 15th July 2016 then the original SAT approval expires. The applicant will no doubt argue that they have “substantially commenced” the development, however seeing as they are trying to get revised plans approved, I consider it a long stretch to claim that they have substantially commenced with the initial plans.

In all likelihood, SAT will be asked to grant the 1 year extension to the approval which the council refused. And this is where it gets interesting. Planning approvals have the two year time-frame applied to them for the simple reason that things change, and there are a few changes which have occurred which show that SAT should not grant an extension.

  1. Abel Weschem – This is a business adjacent to the subject site. They are sensitive to dust and hence should be considered a ‘sensitive land use’ and granted the recommended buffer distance from concrete batching plants. The EPA’s guidelines on ‘Separation Distances between Industrial and Sensitive Land Uses’ lists this as being 300-500 metres.
  2. Transfer Station – Along the stretch of Collier Road where the batching plant is being proposed is the City of Bayswater’s waste transfer station. The lease on this expires next year and there have been some discussions about improving the area by having an alternative land use on that site. The objective would be to continue the “gentrification” along that stretch of road as it backs onto a park and then residential houses.
  3. Capital Recycling – On the opposite side of Collier Rd, the massive pile of dirt people familiar with the area would know, is part of Capital Recycling. I have heard that they are re-locating to Henderson and if so it would lead to a reduction in dust. As such the base level dust analysis which SAT initially insisted upon needs to be fully re-done.
  4. EPA guidelines – In the initial SAT Decision they wrote “Importantly, it was a matter of agreement between the environmental experts … it appeared that the technology for concrete batching plants had progressed since the time when Guidance Statement No 3 was issued.” Guidance Statement No 3 was issued in 2005. However the EPA’s Draft Guidance Statement issued in 2015 also re-affirms their view that the separation distance should be 300-500 metres. As such SAT can no longer claim the 2005 document is outdated.

The above are my views on why SAT should not extend the original approval. As such the amended plans currently before SAT also need to be dismissed and the whole process started again under a new planning application.

Power to the people.

(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater)

Follow up – 19 August 2016 –
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