Melton residents deserve better than a “stinky dumping ground” in the municipality, according to councillors.
And they’re prepared to take on the environment watchdog in their fight against Ravenhall landfill’s bid to expand.
At a special council meeting last Tuesday, councillors disregarded an officer’s recommendation and unanimously voted to appeal the Environment Protection Authority’s works approval for Cleanaway to expand the tip.
It’s estimated an appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal would cost between $15,000-$30,000, plus costs of expert witnesses, based on a four-five day hearing. Costs thereafter could be $15,000 per week.
Officers warned, if the council was unsuccessful in its appeal, costs in the vicinity of $100,000 could be awarded against it.
“There are also potentially reputational risks in challenging the decision of a public body, in circumstances where the decision has been taken after a lengthy and technical hearing of the matter,” the officers’ report stated.
But councillors said they had been elected by residents to stand up for them and support them “in their greatest time of need”.
Cambridge ward councillor Kathy Majdlik said while appealing the decision might seem costly, “in the grand scheme of things” it wasn’t a significant expense, given the many years before the permit would expire.
“Melton … deserves better than to have a stinky, dumping ground within our parameters,” Cr Majdlik said.
“In our current council plan, it states Melton council will manage our growth, have a clear vision to connect and develop a sustainable city, as well as strategically plan for a well-designed city – this does not include being a dumping ground for the whole of metropolitan Melbourne.”
Stop The Tip president Marion Martin has called on Premier Daniel Andrews and Planning Minister Richard Wynne to heed residents’ concerns and support them in their fight against the tip’s expansion.
“[Tonight’s decision] means councillors do care about the residents and the community,” Ms Martin said.
“Now it’s the state government that need to have a good, hard look at themselves.”
Council lawyers have provided written legal advice about appealing the EPA decision.
But this advice will not be made public to ensure legal professional privilege is maintained, officers said.
Brimbank council is expected to discuss also appealing the EPA’s decision on the landfill at it’s meeting tonight.