Tip site dispute escalates

THE City of Greater Bendigo has started legal proceedings against Hopley Demolition, claiming the company failed to meet demands to clean up and get off the old White Hills tip site by today.

The company was ordered in July to clean up and get off the Crown land after using it without a permit for several years.

The city has locked the gates to the old Heywood Street entrance to Hopley Demolition.

The Environmental Protection Authority also issued the company with clean-up notices and ordered it to remove all industrial waste from the site before today, but the authority has received an application for an extension of time.

The EPA inspected the site on January 16 this year and the clean-up notice followed when it was found the company had breached the Environmental Protection Act 1970 for depositing industrial waste without permits to do so.

The City of Greater Bendigo claims the company has been illegally trespassing on the White Hills land for several years.

Hopley Demolition, which won the contract for significant projects such as the new Bendigo hospital, has been storing truckloads of industrial waste on the old tip site at White Hills. The company does not have a lease on the site.

Hopley (Demolition) has done some crushing of the material but is continuing to use the site. - Prue Mansfield

Despite erecting business signs and gates at the Heywood Street entrance, there were no permits in place for Hopley Demolition to access the old tip or use the area as a retail premises - nor was it permitted to store waste at the site in readiness for crushing.

The company does have permits to operate a crushing and recycling facility on land alongside the old tip. 

Planning and development director Prue Mansfield yesterday said the company continued to occupy the land.

“We have started legal proceedings through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal because there are no signs they are going to relocate voluntarily,’’ she said.

“Hopley (Demolition) has done some crushing of the material but is continuing to use the site.’’

Documents filed with VCAT relate to the company operating on land without a permit, and now installing a new road crossing at the wrong location.

Ms Mansfield said the new entrance to Hopley Demolition was about seven metres from where it should be, and on someone else’s land.

The city learnt almost two years ago the company was encroaching on neighbouring crown land.

Ms Mansfield said while the council tried to work with the company, it had reached the point where any further use of the land could cause long-term damage.

A Meinhardt report commissioned this year deemed extensive detailed assessments were needed at the site before it was safe for future use.

For this reason, Ms Mansfield said it was impossible to determine the level of risk and therefore use of the land in the short term was no longer appropriate.

“We don’t know the level of risk but the level of unknowns are so high that it creates an unacceptable risk,” she said.

Hopley Demolition's lawyer Greg Tobin was unavailable for comment.

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