Proposed Hanson Concrete Plant
Ignoring nearly every objection we raised with them over the past 18 months, the Department of Planning Industry and Environment (DPI&E) has lodged its recommendation with the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) to approve an application from Hanson Australia to build a huge concrete batching plant on Glebe Island.
In the past, the Planning Commission has followed DPI&E recommendations about 80% of the time, unless there has been widespread community objection to a proposal they are considering.
In its recommendation, the DPI&E justifies its assessment as being in the public interest, despite thousands of objections by way of submission on the EIS and a petition sent to Parliament with over 1000 signatures.
The majority of residents in Pyrmont and the surrounding areas do not want the Hanson proposal to go ahead, for a number of reasons:
The Hanson plant will make a lot of noise when operating. The existing Hymix plant (100% owned by Hanson) in Bank Street near the Fish Market makes a huge amount of noise, and their proposed Glebe Island plant will be larger and therefore noisier.
Noise will also come from ships berthed and Glebe Island Berths 1 and 2. Their proposal is for 120 large ships unloading sand, gravel and other materials. Those ships will run their engines day and night causing significant noise and pollution.
Hanson says they will follow the “Port Noise Protocol” set by the NSW Port Authority (NSWPA) from January 2021. We have lodged formal protests that the allowable noise levels in that protocol are far too lenient so close to a residential area. Nor does the Port Authority do much about it if a ship exceeds those high levels. A letter or phone call to the owners, a slap on the wrist, nothing else. In the past ten years there is no record of the Port Authority having taken any ship owner to court or securing a fine or a conviction. In other words, they are a toothless tiger.
Look at the Hymix plant and see the large amount of cement dust it emits. Go to their Enfield plant and you can see dust on the surrounding houses and streets. Over the past five years, Enfield Council has issued many breach notices to Hanson for noise and dust offences.
On top of the visible dust, concrete plants emit significant gases and other invisible particles into the air. Ships moored at Glebe Island run their engines 24/7 and emit significant particles of PM2, a substance which causes great concern to the World Health Organisation.
Hanson is requesting and the DPI&E has recommended they be allowed to operate 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Is this what we want so near to the place we live? What happens to the ”quiet enjoyment” residents are entitled to and expect?
The Hanson plant would be almost as high as the existing Cement Australia silos, obliterating the sightlines to the iconic ANZAC bridge. Do we want our views of a beautiful bridge to be obliterated by a factory?
The proposed plant will cause a huge increase in heavy truck traffic. Upwards of 3000 trucks a day or 21,000 trucks* a week will be driving in and out of Glebe Island, on top of the hundreds of additional trucks each day servicing the silos at Cement Australia and the MUF.
All of these trucks will have to use James Craig Road, the only road in and out of Glebe Island and will add instant overload to the new road infrastructure around the Anzac Bridge and WestConnex, not to mention substantial airborne pollution to the inner west.
Add to this the trucks and buses going to and from the White Bay Cruise terminal when cruise ships start again, and you have a recipe for significant traffic congestion and gridlock in peak hours.
Glebe Island Pedestrian Bridge
Recently we have seen the Bays West Strategic Plan which includes restoration of the old Glebe Island swing bridge to provide a pedestrian walkway and cycleway. We understand this plan has the support of NSW Planning and Open Spaces Minister Rob Stokes.
If this plan eventuates, those pedestrians and cyclists will be passing within a few metres of a noisy, dusty, air pollution emitting concrete batching plant. How can that be tolerated or permitted? What will that do for the health of pedestrians and cyclists wanting to exercise in fresh air? How can the Minister support the pedestrian and cycling bridge and also permit a concrete batching plant to be built on Glebe Island?
What are we doing?
We believe the DPI&E has done a very poor job assessing the Hanson proposal, accepting a number of half-truths and self-serving interpretations from Hanson as if they were gospel. They gave Hanson more than three years to submit and process their EIS, and many extensions of time to answer questions raised by us and others. It is our contention that those issues were not properly addressed or answered by Hanson, and the DPI&E seems to have meekly accepted pretty much whatever Hanson had to say.
We have lodged a very detailed written submission to the IPC, which addresses the issues one by one to show where Hanson has made incorrect or wrongly based assertions, and where the DPI&E have let them get away with this.
What are the aims of our submission?
1. That the IPC reject the DPI&E recommendation, or at least require full and proper answers to the many questions we have raised. We would welcome a further opportunity to meet with the IPC, in the same way Hanson executives and the DPI&E had a private session with the IPC on 6 May 2021.
2. If the IPC does approve the proposal at the very least the IPC should impose several conditions on that approval, including: -
A. A curfew on the Hanson plant operating between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
B. Proper controls on the noise levels of ships entering and leaving Glebe island and especially the tugs which assist them arriving and departing. By “proper controls” we do not accept the “slap on the wrist” penalties which the Port Authority of NSW has used until now, such as a phone call or letter to ship owners, long after the ship has departed. We mean substantial financial penalties which would cause ships to comply with and not ignore the noise guidelines as they do now.
C. A schedule of the times each quarter when the EPA and other relevant Government bodies must measure and report on noise levels of the Hanson operation, along with the ships it brings in, as well as air quality levels. Unless the IPC sets these conditions in writing, nobody will measure or monitor noise and air quality levels, nor will any penalties ever be imposed for infringements.
D. There was some inference by Hanson and the DPI&E that the EPA not only sets standards for noise levels and air quality, it somehow has a part in holding organisations and businesses to account if and when those standards are exceeded. That is not the case. We have had three meetings with the EPA in the past three years, and each time they have emphasised they are not the policeman and they only recommend standards to the State Government. Once accepted, those standards have to be policed by others, and the EPA has nothing whatever to do with monitoring levels or prosecuting offenders.
How can I find out more?
For more information please see our submission in full.
We also sent out a special bulletin on the Hanson Concrete Plant in May which you can see here.
In addition to Jacksons Landing Coalition's submission, below are several other letters by our members which articulate our concerns further:
Letter from Jennifer Owen (2 June 2021)
Letter from Stephen Paull (3 June 2021)
Letter from Ross Stitt (2 June 2021)
Letter from Chris and Anita Levy (3 June 2021)
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