23 March 2021

Canberra construction companies plan to make Yass Valley their dumping ground

| Hannah Sparks
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The proposed dumping site in Wallaroo.

Wallaroo residents are upset by a proposal for Canberra construction companies to dump 8000 cubic metres of excavated materials in a nearby gully. Photo: Franklin Consulting Australia.

A proposal to allow Canberra construction companies to dump 8000 cubic metres of excavated materials in rural Yass Valley – avoiding about $153,600 in ACT fees – has been labelled as the “tip of the iceberg” by residents.

According to those who live near the proposed dumping site – an eroded gully at 66 Brooklands Road in Wallaroo – the area has long been a popular spot for illegal dumping by companies across the nearby border.

Yass Valley Council said it is aware of the bigger issue and is investigating reports of clean fill being transported to the area.

At least 34 Wallaroo residents are facing more noisy trucks driving past their homes and businesses if Yass Valley councillors approve the latest proposal – which attracted 18 submissions – at their meeting on Wednesday 24 March.

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If the plan gets the green light, dumping will take place over a year and include virgin excavated natural material such as clay, sand and soil, as well as excavated natural material including rock and soil that can be contaminated with other materials including oil or asbestos.

The proposal coincides with another development application for 42,000 cubic metres of excavated material to be dumped next door at 64 Brooklands Road, Wallaroo.

The area is mostly inhabited by people who use the land for agricultural activities including wineries and an olive grove, and those seeking a rural lifestyle.

One Wallaroo resident said the dumping proposal will impact their “peaceful and quiet lifestyle”.

The proponent said the 8000 cubic metres or 12,000 tonnes of excavated material will ‘rehabilitate’ the eroded gully at 66 Brooklands Road, however local residents said there’s nothing stopping them from dumping more because the council hasn’t enforced a survey.

Wallaroo residents who helped fund locally sealed roads are also concerned about the safety and damage to local roads with more trucks moving back and forth.

While the proponent suggested eight daily truck movements would be enough to transport the excavated materials to the gully the council has proposed 20 deliveries a day.

A map of the proposed site.

The proposed site is near Wallaroo and Southwell Roads and the Murrumbidgee River. Photo: Yass Valley Council.

A Southwell Road resident said 110 trucks already drive past their house each day.

“Heavy vehicles become everyone’s concern after they leave the Barton Highway and enter our neighbourhood – there is only one main road in and out. We have narrow roads, many bends, concealed driveways, elderly and disabled residents, regular learner drivers and groups of cyclists,” another resident said.

Even the council has acknowledged the pavement along the proposed truck route and the corner of Wallaroo and Southwell Roads is already deteriorating from existing heavy vehicle movements.

“Potholes have appeared and remain unfilled… reflector guideposts have been flattened and not replaced… significant road edge erosion exists on the corner of Wallaroo and Southwell Roads… and much loose gravel is at the T-intersection of Wallaroo and Southwell Roads,” another resident said.

The proponent must pay a heavy haulage contribution to the council of $1465, however, that can only be used to maintain the roads and not to compensate affected residents.

Wallaroo residents are also worried about the noise impacts – particularly as the applicant wasn’t required to provide a noise assessment to the council.

One resident said they believe the road surface outside their house is 14 millimetres of chip seal which “is the noisiest of the different road surfaces used in NSW”.

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Residents said they felt the council hasn’t done its due diligence because it considers the application to be small. They argue no matter the size, approving this application will present a ‘watershed’ decision.

The council said it has already determined applications involving gully rehabilitation and importation of material that “set a current direction for considering and determining proposals”.

The gully.

The applicant said the proposal will stop the erosion in the gully. Photo: Franklin Consulting Australia. Photo: Franklin Consulting Australia.

The council has recommended several consent conditions for councillors to consider before approving the application which require trucks importing material to the site to display a clear marking; that the applicant prepares a report every six months; fill deliver records are included in the project status report; and a project transport management plan is prepared by the applicant including truck speed limits and expected driver behaviour.

Approval will allow the trucks to dump material between Monday and Friday, from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, but not on weekends or public holidays.

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