West ‘betrayed’ by Ravenhall tip decision

Concerned locals say the environment watchdog has “let the west down” following its decision to grant Cleanaway a works approval to expand the Ravenhall landfill.

The Environment Protection Authority announced on Friday it had approved waste management giant Cleanaway’s proposal, albeit on a much smaller scale.

The approval limits the number of landfill cells to seven on the southern end (Cleanaway had applied for 16 new cells in the north and south); grants landfill area of 96 hectares, with 23 million cubic metres of airspace (the original application requested a landfill area of 210 hectares, with 53 million cubic metres of airspace); and has limited the landfill’s lifespan to 13 years (Cleanaway had requested 30).

EPA knowledge, standards and assessments executive director Tim Eaton said the decision followed 13 months of community consultation and expert advice, including an independent planning panel’s report.

“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.”

Approval is subject to a number of conditions, and to Cleanaway securing a planning permit.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne last year called in Cleanaway’s application and appointed an independent panel to hear submissions. He received the panel’s report earlier this year and is still considering his decision, Mr Wynne’s spokesman said.

Stop the Tip president Marion Martin said residents were shocked by the EPA’s decision, accusing the watchdog of “betraying” the community.

“We’re trusting the minister will do the right thing by the community seeing, as we believe, the EPA has betrayed us,” Ms Martin said.

“The west is not their dumping ground – we weren’t expecting this from the EPA. With all the submissions made to the planning panel, we thought EPA wouldn’t have granted a works approval. I think they’ve let the community down; they’ve let the west down.”

Cleanaway chief executive Vik Bansal issued a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange on Friday, saying the works approval was a “critical step” in the approvals process.

“The EPA’s decision, subject to the planning minister’s approval, will enable landfilling to continue on the site until approximately 2038 and will support our investment in Victorian operations,” Mr Bansal said.

“This highly engineered site … plays a critical role in managing Victoria’s growing residual waste volumes in a safe and sustainable manner.”