Update on Council's legal action against dumped spoil in Bulla

Published on 09 May 2022

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The Victorian Supreme Court dismissed Hume City Council’s request for the decision of the Minister for Planning to be quashed.

Hume City Council took legal action against the Minister for Planning on behalf of the community in relation to the decision of the Minister to adopt and approve Amendment C248 to the Hume Planning Scheme without providing public notice of the changes.

The amendment to the Hume Planning Scheme is to enable the land at Bulla’s Hi-Quality facility to be used and developed for the storage, treatment and disposal of spoil from the West Gate Tunnel Project.

The Supreme Court proceeding was not about the planning merits of the decisions made by the Minister on 29 March 2021. It was a judicial review proceeding, concerned only with the lawfulness of the Minister for Planning’s decisions.

In reaching a decision, the Supreme Court found that the Minister for Planning’s decisions were not affected by jurisdictional error and were therefore lawful.

Council continues to object to the proposal and will also work with relevant authorities to ensure that all approvals and activities comply with the Hume Planning Scheme and the permissions in place.

 

Mayor of Hume City, Cr Carly Moore said:

“We are disappointed with the result, however we took this action on behalf of the community. As a Council we shared our community’s objections to the approval of Amendment C248.

“We will continue to voice our community’s concerns to State Government.

Council will formally consider the outcomes of this decision at a future Council meeting. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is this issue about?

The HiQuality site in Bulla, a privately-owned landfill, has been identified as one of three proposed sites to receive, store and treat contaminated soil from the West Gate Tunnel project. 

On 29 March 2021, the Minister for Planning approved an amendment to the Hume Planning Scheme which is a key step in facilitating the HiQuality site in becoming the location for the storing and treatment of contaminated spoil from the West Gate Tunnel Project.  

This approval was made despite strong objection from Council and the community. 

 

What has Council done to stop spoil from coming to Bulla?

Council has been active in its advocacy and opposing this decision in support of our community. 

Since early March 2020, Council has been calling on the Minister for Planning to provide information on this proposal. 

Following a request from the Department Environment Land Water Planning (DELWP) on behalf of the Minister for Planning to seek Council’s views on this issue, Council submitted a formal response strongly outlining its objection. The response was prepared by Maddocks law firm with input from Council officers, a traffic expert and an environmental management expert. 

Since the response was submitted, Council has received no further correspondence from the Victorian Government. 

Council has continued to issue statements strongly opposing this decision. 

At the Council meeting of 12 April 2021, Councillors voted unanimously to take legal action against the decision announced by the Minister for Planning on 29 March 2021 to approve an amendment to the Hume Planning Scheme to facilitate the Bulla site as a location for this contaminated soil.  

Why has Council made the decision to take legal action?

This is not a decision Council has taken lightly. The costs are significant, however Council believes this is the right thing to do. 

What did the legal process involve?

A judicial review considered the Minister’s exercise of discretion under section 20 (4) of the Planning and Environment Act. The review would not consider the merits of the planning scheme amendment.  

In reaching a decision, the Supreme Court found that the Minister for Planning’s decisions were not affected by jurisdictional error and were therefore lawful.

Council continues to object to the proposal and will also work with relevant authorities to ensure that all approvals and activities comply with the Hume Planning Scheme and the permissions in place. 

 

What are the costs involved in taking legal action?

The estimated costs to Council associated with taking legal action against this decision are estimated to be between $100,000 to $200,000 but could be higher. 

If the application for a judicial review is not successful, there is a risk that the Supreme Court could require that Council pay the costs incurred by the Minister for Planning. 

What are the next steps of the approval process for the use of the HiQuality facility in Bulla?

The planning provisions that the Minister for Planning has introduced include requirements that must be met before the construction and operation of the facility can commence, and then during the life of the operation. This include a range of plans and documents that must be prepared to the satisfaction of the Minister for Planning and State Government departments and agencies. 

Where can I find out more information?

Click here to find out more information on the approved amendment.  

You can also read further information on the West Gate Tunnel Project here or visit the HiQuality website

What can the community do?

Members of the Sunbury and Bulla communities have been active in their objection to this proposal. If you want to advocate against this decision, you can contact the Minister for Planning and local Member for Parliament

 

 

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