Chapel Lane and the deposit of fill on agricultural land
The Victorian Government recognises Melbourne's green wedge areas as vital assets for our community and our state. The Government’s Plan Melbourne Strategy identifies objectives and strategies to support planning for rural and green wedge areas, to recognise and protect land for its agricultural, environmental, heritage, landscape, recreational and tourism values.
Significant levels of dumping of soil and fill are occurring in the Shire and in other peri-urban councils, which is having an adverse impact on the quality of rural land and infrastructure. This issue in rural areas continues to be a source of strong frustration and risk for our community and for all of the peri-urban councils.
The State Government’s Victorian Planning Provisions do not effectively prevent the inappropriate dumping of clean soil and fill.
Council is aware of, and has been closely monitoring, the recent activities occurring at both 130 and 265 Chapel Lane, Doreen. Officers have been liaising with relevant authorities to ensure a coordinated approach to these activities is occurring.
This webpage will be updated to provide our community with the most up-to-date information and outcomes on measures undertaken by Council.
Planning Scheme amendments and advocacy
There is currently no one provision in Planning Schemes to regulate the deposit of clean fill on land, particularly in the peri-urban areas of Melbourne to protect the amenity and landscape values of the Green Wedge.
In these areas ‘earthworks’ are currently unregulated and have a range of potentially negative environmental, amenity and landscape impacts. Requiring a permit for ‘earthworks’ will provide Council with a mechanism to regulate them and to minimise these impacts.
Council seeks control over earthworks and the importation and placement of fill within the green wedge, by requiring a planning permit. Although some green wedge areas are partially or wholly subject to overlays (such as the Significant Landscapes Overlay) that require a planning permit for ‘works’, not all of the areas covered by these zones are also covered by such overlays, nor is there necessarily strategic justification to apply such overlays to all green wedge properties.
At its Future Nillumbik Committee meeting on 11 August 2020, Council considered that an amendment is required to provide Council with control over earthworks within the green wedge that are subject to the Green Wedge and Rural Conservation Zones, and resolved to seek authorisation from the Minister to prepare an amendment to deal with these issues. Council also resolved to write to the Minister to advocate for these amendments and changes to the Victorian Planning Provisions
Subject to this resolution, on 17 August, Council lodged amendment C130 with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to seek authorisation from the Minister requesting he utilise his powers of intervention under Section 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to implement interim controls to modify (on an interim basis) the schedule to the Green Wedge Zone and the Rural Conservation Zone (Schedules 1 – 5) by inserting a permit trigger for:
- Earthworks which involve the receipt, importation, stockpiling or placement of more than 100 cubic metres of fill to all land.
Council also lodged concurrently a request for authorisation of amendment C131, which seeks to make interim controls requested by C130 permanent.
If authorised, progress in regard to these amendments will be available on DELWP’s amendments website.
Council has advocated to the Minister and local members previously for changes to the Victorian Planning Provisions to deal with the matter of illegal dumping of clean fill in 2019 (see attached) and in regard to the recent amendments noted above (see attached).
On 28 August 2020, Council received correspondence (see attachment) advising that the Minister will require a greater period of review to authorise amendment C131.
At the special meeting of the Future Nillumbik Committee on 18 August 2020, the committee resolved to:
- As soon as is practicable, officers to commence enforcement proceeding relating to the development of land at 265 Chapel Lane Doreen.
At the Ordinary Meeting of Council on 25 August 2020, Council resolved to:
- Reconfirm Council's intention to apply to the Tribunal for an enforcement order in accordance with Section 114 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 at the earliest opportunity
- Determines its position in relation to s120 interim enforcement order in the confidential session on 25 August 2020.
Council today, 15 September 2020, has applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an Enforcement Order under Section 114 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 with respect to the contravention that has occurred at 130 Chapel Lane, Doreen.
Impacts to infrastructure
At the special meeting of the Future Nillumbik Committee on 18 August 2020, the committee resolved to take immediate action to overcome the current road safety, infrastructure integrity and amenity issues related to heavy vehicle traffic on Chapel Lane and Middle Hut Road Doreen by:
1. Commencing the process to implement traffic interventions such as load limits and/or truck bans, on Chapel Lane (between Yan Yean Road and Hurstbridge Arthurs Creek Road and Middle Hut Road between (Brocks Road and Arthurs Creek Road), in consultation with the CFA and, where required, with the approval of the Department of Transport.
2. Enforcing the ban on all trucks (excepting Council and Emergency vehicles) over any load limit approved and request the support of the Victorian Police regarding this enforcement.
3. Seek approval from the Victorian State Government Department of Transport to impose a 50kmph speed limit on Chapel Lane and Middle Hut Road (extent of imposition as per item above).
4. Advising the owners and operators of the current land fill activities at 130 and 265 Chapel Lane that they have failed to obtain a permit to build a crossover for works 500 metres east of Middle Hut Roads, and at the vehicular entry point to 130 Chapel Lane, Doreen.
5. Issue enforcement orders and seek all available penalties as a consequence for the destruction of road pavements and infrastructure in the vicinity of the sites at 130 and 265 Chapel Lane, Doreen.
Council officers have since commenced the processes required to apply for load limits and speed limit changes.
Council conducted repair works to sections of Chapel Lane from Thursday 27 to Tuesday 2 September 2020 requiring the road's closure. Further works are being undertaken near the intersection of Middle Hut Road on Friday 4 September, requiring the road's closure.
Other works are being undertaken along the western end of Chapel Lane between Middle Hut Road and Yan Yean Road. The road will not be closed, but residents can expect some minor delays.
The costs associated with these works have been paid for through Council’s operational budget.
Where Council’s assets have been damaged, the general approach is to seek to recover any damage to Council assets under the appropriate mechanisms.
Council is keeping a record of all inspections and necessary repairs being undertaken on Chapel Lane and Middle Hut Road.