Council takes legal action to stop dumped spoil in Bulla

first_imgCouncil takes legal action to stop dumped spoil in Bulla Hume City Council will take legal action against the decision to approve an amendment to the Hume Planning Scheme which will facilitate the use of the HiQuality site in Bulla to store contaminated spoil from the West Gate Tunnel Project.Council made a unanimous decision to initiate judicial review proceedings to examine the decision by the Minister for Planning.Hume Mayor, Councillor Joseph Haweil said there had been no process for Council or officers to provide input into this decision or to further advance Council’s objection to the proposal since submitting a response to the proposed amendment in September 2020.“The decision to take this to the Supreme Court was not made lightly. The costs are significant, however my fellow Councillors and I believe this is the right thing to do and the action our community expects,” Cr Haweil said.“How the Victorian Government felt it appropriate to avoid the usual process and approve this amendment without public consultation and independent review is beyond belief.”“We could not have been clearer in our response that the Minister for Planning should not approve this amendment, particularly without a transparent process involving community consultation and independent review.”This site in Bulla is in close proximity to where the Victorian Government recently approved residential development in Sunbury South, and concerningly backs onto Emu Creek.“We can’t understand why the Victorian Government would want to dump spoil in a growing residential area,” Cr Haweil said.Council will also write to Minister for Planning, the Minister for Transport Infrastructure and the Head of Transport for Victoria outlining Council’s objection regarding the major impact this could have on our roads that are already under strain.“We hold great concerns about allowing hundreds of extra trucks crossing the narrow, dangerous and heritage bridge at Bulla.“We also object strongly to this proposal causing any delay to the much-needed Gap Road Level Crossing Removal Project or Sunbury Road Upgrade Project.”Hume City Council cannot be clearer; we do not support the spoil coming to Bulla and will continue to stand by our community and support concerns for their health, the environment and the impact the traffic congestion this facility will create.Frequently Asked Questions What is this issue about?The HiQuality site in Bulla, a privately-owned landfill, has been identified as one of three proposed sites to receive, store and treat contaminated soil from the West Gate Tunnel project.On 29 March 2021, the Minister for Planning approved an amendment to the Hume Planning Scheme which is a key step in facilitating the HiQuality site in becoming the location for the storing and treatment of contaminated spoil from the West Gate Tunnel Project.This approval was made despite strong objection from Council and the community.What has Council done to stop spoil from coming to Bulla?Council has been active in its advocacy and opposing this decision in support of our community.Since early March 2020, Council has been calling on the Minister for Planning to provide information on this proposal.Following a request from the Department Environment Land Water Planning (DELWP) on behalf of the Minister for Planning to seek Council’s views on this issue, Council submitted a formal response strongly outlining its objection. The response was prepared by Maddocks law firm with input from Council officers, a traffic expert and an environmental management expert.Since the response was submitted, Council has received no further correspondence from the Victorian Government.Council has continued to issue statements strongly opposing this decision.At the Council meeting of 12 April 2021, Councillors voted unanimously to take legal action against the decision announced by the Minister for Planning on 29 March 2021 to approve an amendment to the Hume Planning Scheme to facilitate the Bulla site as a location for this contaminated soil.Why has Council made the decision to take legal action?This is not a decision Council has taken lightly. The costs are significant, however Council believes this is the right thing to do.What will the legal process involve?A judicial review will consider the Minister’s exercise of discretion under section 20 (4) of the Planning and Environment Act. The review would not consider the merits of the planning scheme amendment.If Council is successful and the Court finds that the Minister’s decision was unlawful, the Minister would be required to make a new decision.What are the costs involved in taking legal action?The estimated costs to Council associated with taking legal action against this decision are estimated to be between $100,000 to $200,000 but could be higher.If the application for a judicial review is not successful, there is a risk that the Supreme Court could require that Council pay the costs incurred by the Minister for Planning.What are the next steps of the approval process for the use of the HiQuality facility in Bulla?The planning provisions that the Minister for Planning has introduced include requirements that must be met before the construction and operation of the facility can commence, and then during the life of the operation. This include a range of plans and documents that must be prepared to the satisfaction of the Minister for Planning and State Government departments and agencies.Where can I find out more information?Click here to find out more information on the approved amendment.You can also read further information on the West Gate Tunnel Project here or visit the HiQuality website.What can the community do?Members of the Sunbury and Bulla communities have been active in their objection to this proposal. If you want to advocate against this decision, you can contact the Minister for Planning and local Member for Parliament. /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:Bulla, environment, environmental management, gap, Government, Hume City, Hume City Council, infrastructure, local council, operation, parliament, planning, public consultation, Sunbury, Supreme Court, Transport, Victorialast_img read more

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Five years after arrest, human rights defenders still denied access to lawyers – UN expert: Lao PDR

first_imgFive years after arrest, human rights defenders still denied access to lawyers – UN expert: Lao PDR OHCHRA UN expert called on the Government of Lao PDR to immediately release three human rights defenders who have been detained for more than five years, saying their continued imprisonment was an impediment to the advancement of human rights in the South-East Asian nation.A court in the capital, Vientiane, sentenced Ms. Lodkham Thammavong, Mr. Soukane Chaithad and Mr. Somphone Phimmasone to prison terms of up to 30 years in 2017 after they took part in a demonstration outside the Lao Embassy in Thailand to express concerns over the government’s human rights record. The three, who were arrested in March 2016, had also posted messages on social media criticizing the Government.Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said the activists had not only been deprived of their liberty, but also their right to a fair and free trial. “To date, none of the above human rights defenders have had access to their lawyers,” she said.“I am deeply concerned that these three human rights defenders have been criminalised and sentenced respectively to 12, 16 and 30 years imprisonment in retaliation for their legitimate human rights work and criticism of the Government’s alleged human rights violations, corruption and deforestation.”“The misuse of national security laws to convict human rights defenders who are critical of the Government generates fear amongst all human rights defenders in the country and has had an adverse effect on their ability to carry out their legitimate human rights work,” Lawlor said. “The Government must guarantee a safe, secure and enabling environment for all human rights defenders.“The Government must provide the legal and factual basis behind the arbitrary arrest and incommunicado pre-trial detention of Ms. Lodkham Thammavong, Mr. Soukane Chaithad and Mr. Somphone Phimmasone,” Lawlor said. “The Government should also explain the the harsh prison sentences handed down to these human rights defenders, and how these are compatible with international human rights norms and standards.”The expert’s call has been endorsed by: Ms Leigh Toomey (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Miriam Estrada-Castillo, Mumba Malila, Mr Seong-Phil Hong, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ; and Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association . /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:Asian, Assembly, corruption, demonstration, detention, Effect, environment, Government, Human Rights, Leigh, OHCHR, Prison, security, social media, Thailand, UN, Vientianelast_img read more

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