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Permit withdrawn

Part of the Maddingley Brown Coal rubbish site. PHOTO – Helen Tatchell

By Meg Kennedy

After 12-months’ worth of heated debate, Maddingley Brown Coal (MBC) has officially backed out of a controversial application to store household waste at its Tilleys Road site.

Moorabool Shire Council announced on Tuesday, 10 September via a media statement that MBC had withdrawn its planning application to include household (putrescible) waste in its landfill cells for commercial purposes.

The application was due to be considered at a Special Meeting of Council on Monday, 30 September.

“Council wishes to advise that a planning application to use and develop land in Tilleys Road, Maddingley as a landfill for putrescible waste, has been WITHDRAWN by the applicant,” said the statement.

“Council will not have the opportunity to consider this now. We have no indication as to whether the applicant will apply for another planning amendment, but this is a possibility.

We will continue to keep the community informed of any developments, and wish to thank everyone affected who took the time to make submissions in regards to this application,” it said.

MBC parent company Calleja Group remained tight-lipped in the wake of the news, failing to answer questions put forward by the Moorabool News about the reason behind the withdrawal.

In a replying statement, Calleja said that “MBC has considered a range of additional strategic uses for the site and these are currently under assessment,” since the application was first lodged to Council in September 2018.

“At the right time, we will engage with State and Local Government stakeholders, as well as the local community on these initiatives,” said the statement.

It is unknown if MBC will re-apply for a permit.

The news comes as a flood of relief to Maddingley residents, following concerns regarding smells, noise and environmental impacts if the application was granted.

One of the application’s most vocal objectors, Bacchus Marsh Grammar Principal Andrew Neal, was concerned a successful permit would mean the school – located just over one-kilometre from the site – would have no choice but to relocate (MN 14 May 19).

Mr Neal told the Moorabool News the withdrawal is a “pleasing situation for the school,” but noted it wasn’t “an ideal” outcome.

“I wouldn’t say it’s ideal, because there’s still always the possibility there’s another application that may be on the table,” he said.

“An ideal would be a guarantee that it wasn’t coming back.”

Mr Neal said the withdrawal allowed “large-scale capital expenditures” that were once in limbo to be green-lit.

But if the permit was still on the table as scheduled, Mr Neal said the school would have made “appropriate action” to take the matter further.

“Whether it was approved by Council or not…it would have been taken by one or the other of the parties towards VCAT, so we were ready to take the matter to VCAT,” he said.

A spokesperson for EPA Victoria said in a statement that the government body “was aware of Maddingley Brown Coal’s intention to pursue a licence amendment to deposit putrescible waste at its landfill.”

“Maddingley will require a licence amendment to receive such materials and will need to submit an application to EPA if it intends to proceed.

Other permits would also be required from the local council,” said the spokesperson.