Information released today that outlines the Victorian Planning Minister has approved a battery recycling plant in Hazelwood North will be met with disbelief and anger from many local residents.
The Minister needs to explain to the local community how and why he approved the project prior to it being heard in VCAT.
It was understood that following Councils decision to oppose the project, that an appeal to VCAT could be made by the proponent if they wished to contest that decision.
At no point did the Minister or the Government communicate with the community that the proposal was in fact sitting on the Ministers desk and that he would provide approval prior to the end of the normal legal process.
To deny the community the opportunity to raise legitimate concerns and issues in VCAT is a slap in the face to many local residents who have in good faith involved themselves in the process from the very start.
Rather than conveying the decision to Council and for the sake of transparency, the Minister must now provide a statement to our local community as to why he called in and approved this project without community consultation and without the opportunity for it to be contested at VCAT.
The Government must also advise what if any financial supports it has or has not provided for this project.
Media article below courtesy of the Latrobe Valley Express
The Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne has stepped in and given the green light for Chunxing to build a used lead acid battery recycling plant in Hazelwood North.
The decision is due to be formally gazetted in the next fortnight, but The Express understands the approval was officially made in the past week.
Chunxing is aware of the Minister’s decision and will release a statement in the coming weeks.
It comes as the application was awaiting to be heard at the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal in April after it was refused by Latrobe City Council at a special council meeting in September.
The Minister intervened to approve the project which met the criteria for a Development Facilitation Program established by the state government.
According to documents seen by The Express, the Development Facilitation Program “identifies priority projects that deliver investment into the Victorian economy, keep people in jobs and provide a substantial public benefit”.
“Projects which meet the established criteria are recommended by the program for the minister’s consideration for possible intervention,” the documents read.
Chunxing is planning to process 50,000 tonnes of lead acid batteries into 28,000 tonnes of refined lead per year on the Fourth Road site, providing more than 50 ongoing jobs.
However, the application had attracted significant community objection with fears of possible lead contamination into the local environment.
Latrobe City Council knocked-back the planning application after deciding it did not meet the requirements of the planning scheme, including taking into consideration amenity impacts.
The application had already been approved by the Environment Protection Authority which had taken detailed technical, environmental and human health studies into account.
Latrobe City is yet to receive details of the approved planning permit.