A short history of No Toxic Dump in Niddrie Quarry April 1996 – Sept 1999

Jun 5, 2023History

In April 1996 when FOSC heard Of Quadry’s proposal to use the old Niddrie Quarry as a “low level contaminated landfill” with a haulage road through Spring Gully Reserve, we initiated a community campaign to oppose it. FOSC saw it as a threat to the health and safety of the community and very hazardous to the creek and the water-bugs and native fish living in it. We wanted to keep our dramatic cliffs, where Peregrine falcons nest on the ledge, preserve the lake and continue to revegetate the park.

We formed a coalition with Niddrie Quarry Action Group, Niddrie Residents Association and Steele Creek Preservation Group. Together we kept alerting residents of developments, and demanding more information. The community stepped up and attended Council’s information session and became increasingly angry and determined to stop the proposal.  We formed a coalition with Niddrie Quarry Action Group, Niddrie Residents Association and Steele Creek Preservation Group. Together we kept alerting residents of developments, and demanding more information. The community stepped up and attended Council’s information session and became increasingly angry and determined to stop the proposal.  

In October FOSC called a public meeting which was advertised on ABC and commercial radio and TV.

FOSC PUBLIC MEETING KEILOR EAST  2 OCTOBER  1996

RESOLUTION 

Because of the heavy truck traffic, the loss of our only park, the threat to our lives on the local roads and streets, the irreversible consequence that could be caused to the water quality of Steele Creek, the Maribyrnong River, groundwater and Port Phillip Bay and the expensive liability council could be exposing ratepayers to 

this public meeting rejects the proposal that Quadry industry has submitted to Moonee Valley Council.

We put call upon Moonee Valley Commissioners to advise the Minister for Planning that he should, in the interest of public health, safety and water quality, amend the current site-specific controls so that the lake may be preserved and the site rehabilitated with the fill on the site.

We believe that to inflict the proposed low contaminated landfill on the residents of Moonee Valley is an act of criminal negligence.    

We demand a public meeting with Commissioners, Directors and managers of Moonee Valley to answer planning questions.

  1. How il the traffic be managed?
  2. How will council protect our health?
  3. How can a subdivision be placed so close to a contaminated landfill?
  4. How will residential noise levels be maintained?
  5. How will soil be tested so we know what’s in it?
  6.  How will the good name of Moonee Valley be protected?
  7. How will the economic investments of our homes be protected?

We call upon the Moonee valley Commissioners to inform the EPA that they are opposed to the siting of a landfill in a residential area. We also demand that the Commissioners and planners draw up a set of conditions under which they would expect EPA to close a landfill. Those conditions must include odours, dust or water escaping from the site, fires, grid locked roads or the haulage road flooded or congested.

Moonee Valley Commissioners rejected Quadry’s Planning Permit a week later and engaged Stewart Morris QC as Council’s legal adviser. Moonee Valley Commissioners rejected Quadry’s Planning Permit a week later and engaged Stewart Morris QC as Council’s legal adviser. 

The EPA rejected the Works Approval Application in January 1999. In February the community coalition organized a rally at which Rob Hulls the Local state member spoke.

Quadry appealed both Council’s and EPA’s  decisions and the Kennett government obligingly called in the appeals and established a Planning Advisory Committee which sat for six weeks. Council and community argued that the site was more suited to a housing development around the lake. The committee concluded  “ …the best use of the site would be for a housing development but as no one was proposing to do that then the landfill should proceed.”

Throughout 1997 we continued to broaden the campaign.  We took our trailer on tour in and beyond our city.

We participated in May Day Marches, gave torus of the site and spoke to community groups, school and uni students. MVCC and community had a stall outside Melbourne Post Office. Local papers reported everything we did 

Residents outside 3AW while Premier Kennett had his weekly chat with Neil Mitchell

In 1998 the Kennett government announced in state parliament that two toxic dumps would be built – one in Werribee and one in Niddrie. The next day both Niddrie and Werribee residents protested in the public gallery of state parliament.  Our protests made the evening news.

The community and council held a public meeting.  Moonee Valley Council announced they would challenge the Governor- in- Council decision in the Supreme Court which had never been done before.

The community took the battle pledge to take nonviolent direct action to blockade Spring Gully Reserve. Trades Hall black listed the project and offered practical logistical support.

On 30 March 1999 the Supreme Court agreed decisions by Government-in-council can be appealed but that the  toxic dump could proceed because experts have considered the evidence and it is safe. Although there were 5 errors of law in the decision the Community and Council resolved together that  the expense of an appeal would be a waste of money and time. Even if we won it the Kennett government could just rewrite the laws. We resolved to fight on together and win politically.

The community decided to hold a rally and install bollards to represent our resolve to prevent any trucks entering Spring Gully Reserve.

Harry van Moorst from Werribee Residents Against Toxic Dumps speaking at our rally

 Six working groups met to plan different aspects of the blockade.

In August Julia Gillard’s speech to Federal Parliament highlighted the Niddrie and Werribee communities vehement opposition to the toxic dumps and the Quadry’ contradictory statements about the worth of the project. When applying for a planning permit they stated the project was worth   $4.75 million but the Advisory committee report states the project is worth $76.4 million This understatement meant Quadry saved $10,000 on the planning permit application

Protest at Footscray Park on Cup Day 1998
The postcard demanding a housing development instead of toxic dump could be signed and posted 
by any Victorian as it was addressed to the Premier and State members of parliament. 

In the lead up to the State election of 1999 we took our message to four swinging seats and our message  well received by those communities.

The ALP Opposition Leader Steve Bracks promised there would be no toxic dump in Niddrie.

Premier Kennett and Liberal party Niddrie candidate on pre-election unannounced street 
walk in Keilor Rd Niddrie was  surprised when confronted by local residents

The week before the election the Kennett government sent letters to Niddrie residents saying if elected the Kennett government that would not override council’s rejection of the planning permit. He confirmed that on an afternoon 3AW programme. 

The election of the Bracks brought the proposal to an end.

In 2000 the Backs government announced their policy to end toxic dumping in the State of Victoria and that existing toxic dumps in Tullamarine and Lyndhurst would be phased out within two to three years.

In November 2000 the Minster for the Environment John Thwaites announced that the state government had bought the old quarry for a housing development around the lake and the creek corridor would be transferred from private ownership to pubic land to connect with Spring Gully Reserve.

TOGETHER WE WON 

COMMUNITY AND COUNCIL TOGETHER ARE A FORMIDABLE FORCE