70 Ordish Road, Dandenong South

Client: Great Southern Waste Technologies (GSWT)
Project type: Industrial (energy)
Stakeholders: City of Greater Dandenong, Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria, State Government, local and wider community
Value: $100 million

Image courtesy of SMEC

The project
Great Southern Waste Technologies (GSWT) engaged UPco in 2018 to facilitate the approvals process for a waste-to-energy (WtE) facility. GSWT’s plant was to generate electricity by using household and commercial non-recyclables from local waste streams, adding to the varied landscape of sustainable energy supply and helping to reduce Victoria’s landfill.

Our client was one of the first applicants for a WtE facility in Victoria that would handle general, rather than industry-specific, waste. Solid preparation underpinned this bold vision, and it was time to seek approval for the south-eastern suburbs first WtE plant.

The challenge

Proactively seeking to allay Council’s concerns, we advised GSWT that summaries of technical reports outlining health and environmental impacts should be provided to Council (even though the EPA was assessing these matters). We also assisted our client in its forward-thinking stakeholder engagement, which lasted the better part of a year. While this consultation wasn’t strictly necessary for the planning approval (as environmental matters were being handled via a separate EPA approvals process), it provided stakeholders with a reassuring level of education and comfort about relatively unknown technologies.

Given the industrial zoning of the site and the limited planning matters to be considered by Council, the planning permit should have been relatively straightforward, with a robust planning submission. Despite this, local politics derailed the permit application process – and Council repealed its previous vote to approve the WtE plant. The matter was taken to the Tribunal and, having had no prior involvement with (nor advocacy for) the development, UPco’s Amanda Ring was asked to provide expert evidence to VCAT.

The outcome

From a technical perspective, the planning refusal from Council was both flawed and groundless – and the benefits of supplying power and repurposing waste were indisputable. Ruling in favour of the proposal, VCAT directed that the permit be granted. The Tribunal awarded costs against the City of Greater Dandenong, and our client was able to recoup some financial losses it had endured.

The approved facility will process 100,000 tonnes of local waste per year and will supply a reliable hum of power to the grid. GSWT has since brought us on again to help with the planning approvals for another WtE plant – one that we look forward to assisting with.