Kingston Council has voiced its “deep disappointment” that the Victorian Planning Minister has given an 11th hour approval for a concrete crushing facility to remain in Kingston’s Green Wedge for a further 10 years.
Kingston Mayor Steve Staikos said Council simply cannot reconcile the decision of the Minister, who in 2015 introduced new laws to ensure the end of the waste industry in Kingston’s Green Wedge.
“We can’t help but feel that this is a broken promise to the community by granting a 10-year extension for the Alex Fraser Group’s Clarinda concrete crushing facility which will allow it to operate in the Green Wedge until 2033,” Staikos said.
“This decision goes against the clear intent of the 2015 protections that were approved to prohibit industrial waste operations in the Green Wedge.”
Staikos said it was now more important than ever that the Victorian Government takes urgent action to bring to life the long-held vision for a Chain of Parks in Kingston’s Green Wedge.
“In the face of this decision, we call on the Government to invest the $25 million it promised at the last state election for our Green Wedge and immediately purchase key sites to further deliver the Chain of Parks,” he said.
The extension for the industrial waste facility comes despite clear commitments in 2015 by the Planning Minister that ‘The Andrews Labor Government believes in modern, state-of-the-art waste recovery and recycling facilities properly located in industrial areas, away from parklands and homes’.
Following decades of sand extraction and landfilling operations, the approval of Planning Scheme Amendment C143 by Planning Minister Richard Wynne in 2015 was meant to ensure the effective prohibition of materials recycling industrial operations in the Kingston Green Wedge. The permit for the concrete crushing facility was due to expire in 2023, and it would no longer have been permitted to operate in the Green Wedge.
“These protections were introduced following years of planning work and community lobbying that clearly showed that the Green Wedge is no place for an industrial waste facility. Industrial waste facilities belong in industrial zones, not in Green Wedges which serve as the ‘lungs of Melbourne’,” Staikos said.
“It is ironic that when the Minister approved the protections for the Green Wedge in 2015 he committed to greening Kingston’s Green Wedge, but in reality Council has been left to do all the hard work itself.”
Kingston Council has upheld its commitment to the Green Wedge by investing many millions of dollars to bring to life the long-held vision for a ‘Chain of Parks’ in the Green Wedge through:
- Creation of the 34-hectare Spring Road Reserve for the Dingley Village community in 2016
- Partnering with landfill operator on plans to transform former landfill site at Victory Road into a new 31-hectare park in Clayton South
- Construction underway on a new 3ha park at Elder Street South, Clarinda to be opened in coming months
- Purchase of 3 hectares next to the ‘concrete crusher’
- Development of the visionary Green Wedge Chain of Parks Trail Masterplan.
Staikos said it was critical that the Government took urgent action to fulfil its public election commitment that ‘The Sandbelt Parkland has been talked about for nearly 90 years, but only Labor will deliver it. A re-elected Labor Government will deliver a 355-hectare chain of parks from Warrigal Road in Moorabbin to Braeside Park in Dingley Village, with walking and bike trails and adventure play areas for local kids’’.
Council has recently written to Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio calling for the promised $25 million to be invested on acquiring key sites to create the Chain of Parks.
“The Government earmarked the land for Public Acquisition more than two decades ago – now it’s time to act and honour its commitment to our community,” Staikos said.
“If the Government wants to rebuild its trust as a custodian and protector of Green Wedges, it must take action to create the Chain of Parks and fast-track innovative projects such as South East Water’s plan to deliver 1,800 million litres of recycled water to the Kingston Green Wedge.
Staikos concluded by saying that the local community was deeply disappointed by the approval to extend the Alex Fraser concrete crushing facility, which came in the wake of hundreds of community objections. “The message I would leave the Government is that the next announcement it makes in our Green Wedge must restore community faith by taking immediate action to deliver the Chain of Parks”.