Asked: 18 November 2021
Latrobe Valley battery recycling plant
MS BATH — To ask the Minister for Workplace Safety (for the Minister for Planning):
(1661) My adjournment debate this evening is for the Minister for Planning in the other place. Today we had the Environment and Planning Committee release the report of its inquiry into air pollution that had been conducted over some months with a multiparty line-up of members of Parliament. The one recommendation, recommendation 13, that I going to specifically going to speak to tonight in my adjournment is in relation to an environment effects statement (EES) on the proposed used lead acid battery recycling plant between Morwell and Hazelwood North in the Latrobe Valley.
The air pollution inquiry made it quite clear that there are certain areas in our state that have more compromised health outcomes due to air pollution and a lack of air quality over a period of time, and the Latrobe Valley, whilst a fantastic community, is one of those.
Chunxing is a Chinese-owned company. It has sought to put shovel down in an industrial place near Morwell, and that particular site happens to be approximately 1.7 kilometres from homes and from a primary school. The Environment Protection Authority Victoria have provided a works approval. Latrobe City Council have conducted a significant investigation through their planning department and presented that to councillors, and the councillors said, ‘No, we actually don’t believe that it’s in the best interests of the community to establish that plant’. Indeed Latrobe City Council have a health innovation zone, and they felt that that health innovation zone was compromised by putting this used lead acid battery secondary smelter there.
The community has told me—and I thank various people from ALiVe and others that I have mentioned in the past here that I have worked with—that there has been a so-called consultation process. They have been to a member of Parliament from the Labor Party’s office and they have had communication with them, but the questions have remained overwhelmingly unanswered and they are quite frustrated that they have not been listened to.
Chunxing made a self-assessment and told the minister, ‘No, you don’t actually need to conduct an EES’, and he has accepted that. This community does not accept it. The minister has called in this used lead acid battery recycling plant. He has said, ‘Go ahead. It’s fine. We’ll create jobs’. But my community is most concerned that due process was not done. Recommendation 13 of this inquiry called on the government to conduct an EES, so I call on the Minister for Planning to implement recommendation 13 of this air pollution inquiry.
Answered: 10 December 2021
I acknowledge that air quality is a matter of concern for residents in the Latrobe Valley.
I note your request for an Environment Effects Statement for the Hazelwood North used acid lead battery recycling facility, following Recommendation 13 of the Legislative Council’s Environment and Planning Committee Inquiry into the Health Effects of Air Pollution in Victoria, with its report released in November 2021.
An Environment Effects Statement process cannot be required after a project has been approved.
The Chunxing Corporation’s Hazelwood North used acid lead battery recycling facility has been comprehensively assessed and found to be safe.
Potential impacts on nearby residents and community facilities, including schools, were specifically considered in the Environment Protection Authority’s decision to grant a works approval, with potential air emissions found to be very low and substantially below Victorian and international standards.
The works approval requires compliance with strict operating conditions, a full risk management plan, comprehensive monitoring and ongoing engagement with the community.
My decision to grant planning approval for the facility, by Amendment C129latr to the Latrobe Planning Scheme, requires ongoing compliance with a range of additional conditions, including off-site amenity and environmental management requirements.
Officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Environment Protection Authority will continue to meet with local community members to understand their concerns, share information and explain monitoring and risk management processes.
HON RICHARD WYNNE MP
Minister for Planning