Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Legal action threat 'to clear the air'

BRIMBANK Council is considering legal action against electricity distributor Powercor over alleged illegal land use in Brooklyn.
Council solicitors are exploring options for enforcement action against Powercor for failing to provide sufficient support in ensuring its sub-tenants obey the law.

A long-running fight by the community and authorities to rein in odour and dust-producing industries in the Brooklyn Industrial Precinct has made recent progress, but the legal moves show there are still substantial issues left to tackle.

General manager of city development Stephen Sully said the council's planning compliance department had made about 40 site visits in the past two months.

He confirmed the matter had been referred to solicitors. "Powercor is owner of the site and responsible for ensuring its tenants are in compliance with the legislation that applies to the site," he said. "At present, illegal land use continues."

A Powercor spokesman said the company had been working with Brimbank Council to help address the concerns.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Authority is carrying out its own dust monitoring and enforcement over emissions from various industries. A spokeswoman said the regulator was keeping up pressure. "In this financial year to date we have seen a 32per cent reduction in odour reports in the Brooklyn Industrial Precinct."

Cooler temperatures over summer helped reduce the impact of odour on neighbouring residents, while the spokeswoman also pointed to a licence amendment to SITA Australia's facility to prevent it from composting green waste on-site. "This site was a major source of odour in the area."

The EPA is also taking Australian Tallow Producers to court, alleging the discharge of offensive odour in a case to be heard in the Sunshine Magistrates Court later this year. It is working with VicRoads and council regarding road maintenance to keep down the non-industrial dust sources. Some businesses have taken the option of walking away from the area rather than commit to plans of remediation.

Charlie Volpe, of the Brooklyn Residents Action Group, said residents had tolerated air, noise and odour pollution issues for too long and were worried about the possible effects on their health.

He said they appreciated the council and EPA's proactive response, but there was still a long way to go to restore community trust.

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