Court decision reserved on Ipswich waste sites

Ipswich City Council’s court battle with three waste companies, Austin BMI Pty Ltd, Cleanaway Solid Water Pty Ltd, and Lantrak Property Holdings, concluded on Friday 13 August, as the Planning and Environment Court reserved its decision on appeals which could see two new landfills and an existing waste site extended in Ipswich.

The decision regarding the waste sites now lies with the Court and presiding Judge Michael Williamson QC, after a legal hearing that lasted 44 days and saw evidence presented by more than 40 technical experts and members of the Ipswich community.

The waste companies submitted the appeals after Council originally refused each of the three development applications.

Mayor Teresa Harding said every appeal comes at a significant cost to ratepayers.

“We are committed to setting the terms for a waste industry that brings the benefits of the circular economy to our residents, without impacting our quality of life,” Mayor Harding said.

“It has been acknowledged that there is already an adequate supply of landfill space in Ipswich and in South East Queensland, and Council believes the proposed landfills would act as a disincentive for recycling.

“To date, we have paid more than $6 million for legal expenses on the appeals and this figure may rise as the case is completed. It is disappointing this money has had to be spent defending Council’s original DA decision instead of delivering other important community programs and infrastructure.”

Council argued the landfills present an unacceptable environmental risk (including potential contamination of surface and groundwaters); they do not facilitate the appropriate rehabilitation of land that has been scarred by the legacy impacts of former coal mining activities; they would result in unacceptable impacts on residential amenity; and would also impact on the general well-being, sense of place and community perception of the surrounding locality and the entire Ipswich local government area.

Mayor Harding acknowledged the efforts of several members of the Ipswich community, who were co-respondents to the appeals and made submissions to the Court.

“These individuals did a fantastic job representing the concerns of the Ipswich community,” Mayor Harding said.

The three current appeals were administered and heard concurrently due to overlapping issues, but the judge will hand down three separate decisions. The timing of those outcomes is not clear.

The Court recently supported a decision by Council to reject an application to extend a landfill operated by Bio-recycle Australia Pty Ltd at Swanbank.

In handing down his judgement in the Bio-recycle case, Judge Williamson found an approval would “only serve to undermine the community’s confidence in the planning scheme” and the application should be refused.

“The planning benefits that may be attributed to the proposed development have to be balanced against its long-term effects, for which there is no planning, community or economic need,” Judge Williamson said.

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>>>Council and Biorecycle landfill matter resolved in court

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