Neighbours successfully challenge refuse dump approved north of Castlemaine

A GROUP of neighbours have successfully stopped a man from dumping excess drilling mud in several dams on his property north of Castlemaine after the state’s planning tribunal found there was not enough evidence about possible health concerns.

The matter appeared before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last month.

The owner of the land on Peelers Road in Barkers Creek had been dumping excess drilling mud in several dams on the property for up to two years before he was told that he needed to apply for a planning permit.

Mount Alexander Shire Council officers did not want to grant the permit, but councillors voted to approve the refuse dumping regardless.

Nearby residents appealed the decision in VCAT.

The owner was dumping between 10 and 20 cubic metres of excess drilling mud into the dams each day, the tribunal heard.

VCAT member Philip Martin visited the site and noticed the dams contained dark-coloured water. One dam had a native tree that looked “fatally stressed” growing on an island in the middle.

The land is adjacent to the Harcourt Bushland Reserve.

Native vegetation had also been cleared from the property to make room for the refuse dumping.

Mr Martin said it was likely that the current owner had completed the works without appropriate permits.

Nearby residents raised concerns about possible health impacts from having the mud stored in dams nearby.

Mr Martin said they were valid concerns, and there was a lack on information about health concerns and what would happen if the dams overflowed.

“It is very reasonable for the occupants of these nearby dwellings to seek a high level of assurance that the proposed industrial activity here will not impact on their personal health and/or residential amenity,” he said.

“I am not seeing this permit application as providing such assurance.”

The council’s decision was set aside and the permit was not issued.