Dumped soil a dirty issue

Warrandyte Diary, August 2014

The company seeking to build a 24-hour service station at 1-5 Yarra St has failed to remove all of the illegally dumped soil at the site.

Manningham Council’s planning investigations unit estimated between eight to 10 medium-sized truckloads of soil were dumped outside of normal business hours and without a permit at the site in early June.

Council ordered the site’s owner, Platinum King, to remove the excess soil and one month later a council officer watched on as workers removed “a large quantity of soil.”

However, after information provided to the Diary by a resident who lives right nearby the site, it is believed after the council officer left the site, workers allegedly didn’t remove the remaining soil.

A nearby resident said the introduced soil, which is of a different colour to the existing soil at the site, had been spread across a 25 metre area.

“Soil removing is part of what I do for a living,” the resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

“They may have removed some soil while the council officer was there but even the person at council who I spoke to admitted that after the officer left, no more was removed. I think [the owner] brought it straight back and simply spread the soil in a way that makes it appear as if it has been removed.”

Manningham City Council’s chief executive Joe Carbone said council was still investigating the matter.

“One low mound of soil (approximately 2-3 cubic metres) remains on the site,” Mr Carbone said.

“Council has contacted the landowner and is working with them to have as much introduced soil as possible removed from the land, without further affecting the pre-existing conditions to an unreasonable extent.”

When asked if council would impose any sanctions against the owner for not complying with council’s order to remove all of the dumped soil, Mr Carbone said there was “an ongoing investigation” into the matter.

“Council’s focus is to work with the land owner to bring the land into compliance with the planning scheme requirements,” Mr Carbone said.

The anonymous resident who spoke to the Diary believes council’s investigation doesn’t go far enough in examining whether the introduced soil is contaminated.

Yet Mr Carbone says there are no signs that the soil was contaminated, despite not knowing where the new soil came from.

“I’m not satisfied with the council investigation and I’m annoyed with the whole situation,” the resident said.

“It has been weeks and the dirt is still there. When will it go beyond a council matter and become a prosecution matter?”

The Diary understands the incident won’t influence council’s decision to approve or reject the application to build a service station at the site, with Mr Carbone saying the proposal “will be assessed on its planning merits.”

Platinum King’s owner didn’t respond to the Diary’s request for comment.

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Brianna Piazza

Journalist and travel writer.