Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has granted a works approval application for Landfill Operations Pty Ltd (Cleanaway) to extend its Melbourne Regional Landfill at Ravenhall.
The works approval allows for approximately half of the proposal put forward by Cleanaway and is subject to the proposal securing a planning permit from the Minister for Planning.
EPA Knowledge, Standards and Assessments Executive Director Tim Eaton said the decision followed 13 months of extensive engagement and consultation with community and considered the expert views of specialist EPA staff, the expert views of staff at referral agencies, waste groups and over 3,900 public submissions.
“The assessment of the Works Approval application was comprehensively examined in line with the Environment Protection Act 1970, and considered relevant state environment protection policies and guidelines,” he said.
“In addition, EPA also considered the recommendations of an independent planning panel report. Based on all assessments, a works approval has been issued, subject to the satisfactory completion of a series of conditions.”
The works approval issued to Cleanaway is for a smaller landfill than applied for, with a shorter life span. The works approval:
- Limits the landfill to seven cells in the south portion only;
- Has not accepted the proposal for nine cells in the north portion;
- Grants landfill area of 96 hectares, with 23 million cubic metres of airspace (the space to be filled with waste); and
- Grants space for 13 years of landfilling (from 2025 to 2038) – based on projected landfilling rates.
This original application from Cleanaway comprised:
- Creation of 16 new landfill cells in two portions (north and south portions), with only one cell to be active at a time;
- Additional landfill area of 210 hectares, with 53 million cubic metres of airspace; and
- Space for 30 years of landfilling (from 2025 to 2055).
EPA did not grant a works approval for the north portion of the proposed landfill because:
- The Victorian Government has not identified a need for more landfill space beyond 2046. The life-span of the proposed landfill was until 2055, which is nine years more than the currently identified need. An approval to 2055 was therefore deemed unnecessary.
- Cleanaway could still apply for works approval for the north portion in the future if a need is identified.
- The proposal for the north and south portions was assessed as not meeting a number of the environment protection principles in the Environment Protection Act 1970.
- Not approving landfilling in the north portion leaves options open for future development of alternative waste treatment technologies and compliance with future waste policies and/or waste management practice/market changes.
- The operation and rehabilitation processes proposed for the north portion would not work with a smaller area and a shorter-life span (i.e. to 2046) of the landfill and would need to be substantially redesigned.
“EPA considered a range of key issues raised during the assessment period including odour, noise, compliance, health concerns and landfill gas monitoring,” Mr Eaton said.
“Technical experts were appointed to thoroughly assess each of these issues and provide comprehensive advice to EPA to assist with its decision making.
“While the application contained sufficient information to satisfy compliance with Landfill Best Practice Environmental Management (BPEM), EPA assessment found further detailed design was needed prior to landfill construction.”
Mr Eaton said the works approval would be subject to a series of conditions that required activities to be undertaken prior to the commencement of construction, and to extend throughout the lifetime of its operation.
“These include the development and implementation of odour, groundwater, surface water and landfill gas monitoring and management plans, establishing a stakeholder liaison group and engaging an environmental auditor before the construction of a new landfill cell or leachate pond,” Mr Eaton said.
“EPA’s assessment of a works approval application is independently conducted and is separate to a planning permit assessment.
“The proposal still needs planning permit approval. The Minister for Planning is yet to make a decision on the planning permit application.
“EPA appreciates the level of community interest in this application and has taken the necessary time to make a transparent and robust determination of the application.
“EPA is committed to openness and transparency in relation to this decision and has provided information on its website to help the community better understand the process and read through the reasons behind our decision.”
The full application, accompanying plans and other information can be viewed and downloaded by visiting: www.epa.vic.gov.au/CleanawayMRL