The Environment Protection Authority has issued the City of Greater Bendigo with a remedial notice requiring it to undertake an environmental audit of Wolstencroft Reserve to determine the site’s future use.
The audit will verify whether the former landfill site can be used for a “more sensitive” use, such as recreational or residential.
EPA north west manager, Scott Pigdon, said the council had been very co-operative and had committed to undertaking the requirements set out in the notice.
“Due to the historical use of the site as a landfill, there could be risks to the environment, and therefore further investigative works are required before any further decisions are made around an appropriate land use,” he said.
“The completion of a detailed assessment of the former landfill site has been the main issue restricting the development of the site.”
Dr Pidgon said the audit would help determine whether the reserve could be used for “a more user-friendly parkland”, as suggested by nearby residents, but cautioned that these types of assessments took time and it was important they were completed in a thorough manner.
City of Greater Bendigo director Craig Lloyd said the city had been working closely with the EPA and a consulting engineering firm for some time with respect to the site and would comply with the audit order.
“The environmental audit will provide information to help the city determine what work needs to be undertaken to ensure the site is safe and suitable for recreation purposes in the future,” he said.
“The city understands that residents of the area are keen for the site to be improved and we will continue to keep residents informed about what is happening at the site.”
The notice issued to council has a number of steps which include completing further assessments to identify risks at the site associated with the former landfill activity, developing and implementing a plan to remediate any identified risks and lastly a final environmental audit which will outline appropriate land use at the site in the future.
“Once the audit is completed, it will outline what the land is suitable for as well as any remaining risks associated with the site,” Dr Pigdon said,
“Council will then be able to take the findings of the report and then use the site in a way that’s consistent with the issues outlined in the statement.”
In 1985 the former Bendigo City Council purchased the former two hectare brickworks site (bordered by Miller, Wolstencroft and Rodney streets and Havlin Street East) and it was used as a landfill for predominantly clean waste such as building rubble etc until 2002, when it was closed, capped and left as open land.
The city’s 2005 Open Space Strategy recommended looking at ways the site could be redeveloped for sport and passive recreation and a masterplan for the Wolstencroft reserve was adopted by council in 2008.
Subsequent testing identified the need for further groundwater and gas bores to be undertaken and a program developed for collection of information over time.
Mr Lloyd said, in consultation with local residents, the city had installed some natural play elements including a BMX track on part of the site that had not be excavated or filled.
The final audit is due on March 29 next year and must be verified by an EPA-appointed environmental auditor.