Update on Chapel Lane nightmare

Why no Council VCAT action on dumping?

Spare a thought for Chapel Lane, Doreen residents with more illegal soil dumping threatening their farmland neighbourhood. With strong council action urgently needed to stop the trucks, planning spokesman Cr Clarke opts for more buck-passing rather than action at Tuesday 28th council meeting. He is supported by the mayor.

His lengthy notice of motion aimed at the government, won’t stop anything in Chapel Lane in the short term (see council agenda 28/7) It’s mostly a repeat of policy reforms already announced in last year’s letter from the minister and achieves nothing for residents and the environment. Is it just another opportunity for Cr Clarke to take a political party swipe at the government?

Council already has the power to take immediate action for Chapel Lane residents through Sec 114 and 120 of the P&E Act.  Under this legislation council can apply to VCAT for an urgent enforcement order to stop the offending land use. This should be done immediately.

Council has received reliable advice that large-scale disposal of fill (the offending land use) requires a permit even if agriculture does not.  This principle was determined by VCAT in 2016 and used by Cardinia Council to refuse a similar landfill application from the Earth Services Group in July 2019. The VCAT determination established that the large-scale disposal of fill should require a planning permit across all planning schemes.  Council only needed to examine VCAT records and consult Cardinia planners.

Mayor Egan’s believe that ESG does not need a permit is plain wrong.  Their operation at Chapel Lane is illegal because it doesn’t have the necessary permit. It can be stopped by council using its powers of enforcement.  It’s about time Council took real action to protect our Green Wedge.

Footnote: If Chapel Lane residents thought this problem would be resolved at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on  Tuesday 28th July they were sadly mistaken. Still no action planned!

After two Notices of Motion (Cr Clarke's calling on the State Government to act and Cr Perkin"s recognizing that Council CAN and should act on this), much rancorous debate and some very poor behaviour, residents will have to await a new Officer report and at least another Council meeting to find out what Council will do, if anything.

Council has given no commitment to take direct action against ESG despite clearly having the authority to shut down this operation and oblige the company to apply for a permit.