AN audacious bid by the Alex Fraser Group to extend the licence for its Clarinda concrete crushing plant is shaping up as the first test of the newly elected Labor state government’s environmental policy towards Kingston’s Green Wedge.
Councillors unanimously opposed the request at this month’s council meeting and have asked Planning Minister Richard Wynne to “call in” and refuse the extension since it does not align with council’s Green Wedge objectives.
In 2008, the previous Labor government approved the Alex Fraser concrete crusher in Clarinda despite Kingston Council opposition to the plant.
The Alex Fraser was granted a 15-year permit by ministerial order to operate the materials recycling plant and has now lodged a secondary consent application seeking an extension for a further 15 years.
Cr Steve Staikos said “council needs to take a strong stance on this matter”.
He said the existing concrete crusher operates “within law and winning its planning permit” but this should be allowed to expire in nine years’ time.
“For council to have this kind of planning application before it is not in line with council’s good planning in the Green Wedge.”
Cr Paul Peulich said there had been “a lot of fury” from Clarinda residents when the Alex Fraser concrete crusher was approved in 2008 against council’s wishes.
“We [councillors] copped it and it wasn’t our decision,” he said.
Council officers noted Alex Fraser’s extension request “is premature” since “the permit is not due to expire until 2023” and “there is insufficient information for the application to be properly assessed by council”.
Cr Peulich called on the Planning Minister to act to protect residents from “more dust and concrete crushers”.
He said “it was a massive surprise to see the concrete crusher approved in the wake of the 2008 council election”.
The Alex Fraser Group has pre-empted the council’s opposition to its plan and has appealed to VCAT to try to gain the 15-year extension to operations at its 275-315 Kingston Rd plant.
Cr Rosemary West said “the integrity of our Green Wedge in wanting to phase out waste-related operations will depend on how this goes.”
“I hope the [planning] minister does the right thing.”