By Cam Lucadou-Wells
In a major policy reversal, Greater Dandenong Council will push for the banning of any further heavy industries in Dandenong South after a public outcry against a proposed waste-to-energy plant.
With the unanimous backing of councillors, mayor Jim Memeti moved for the council to lobby for the industrial 2 zone to be rezoned to the lighter industrial 1.
The council will also seek the State Government to move industrial 2 to a new area outside metropolitan Melbourne.
“Given the closeness of residents of Dandenong and Keysborough to the Dandenong South industrial 2 zone, Greater Dandenong should no longer have an industrial 2 zone,” Cr Memeti said.
Under the proposal, existing heavy industries in Dandenong South would retain right-of-use.
The move was prompted by community fears about the proposed waste-to-energy plant in Ordish Road.
Among the opponents are Mt Hira School and residents as close as 800 metres from the plant in the industry 2 zone.
The outcry intensified after the Environment Protection Authority Victoria granted works approval for the plant on 21 July.
Cr Memeti said the move had to be made now, before more companies invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” in Dandenong South and make the zone’s relocation “impossible”.
As Greater Dandenong’s population grows, “this is going to be a problem tomorrow, a problem next week and a problem in 50 years’ time”.
“Unfortunately (the industry 2 zone) has to go somewhere. But we have to make the decision that’s going to last … many, many decades after.
“That’s why I’ve made a stand today … the community has had enough.”
Cr Tim Dark noted that Keysborough residents had long complained of a significant odour drifting from the industrial 2 zone.
So far, the EPA had been unable to identify the stench’s source, Cr Dark told the meeting.
Cr Dark, in support of the rezoning, said “it will be a long shot but there’s no harm in trying”.
Cr Sean O’Reilly said there was “natural anxiety” to heavy industries’ proximity to people’s homes.
On 27 July, VCAT was scheduled to begin a planning permit hearing on the proposed waste-to-energy plant.
Greater Dandenong confirmed at the council meeting that it will oppose a permit for the plant.