A recycling firm has won approval to build a controversial rail freight terminal in Fyshwick, signaling the end of a long-running saga marked by a bureaucratic bungle, legal fight and community opposition.
Capital Recycling Solutions has been given the green light to build a freight terminal off Ipswich Street, which it plans to use to transport recyclable material via rail to Goulburn, then Port Botany.
It could also be used in the future to ship recyclables from the company's proposed materials recovery facility, also planned for the Fyshwick site, which is currently undergoing an environmental impact assessment.
The ACT Planning and Land Authority approved plans for the freight terminal on Wednesday, ruling it, and an adjacent concrete slab, were permitted under planning rules for the industrial site.
The decision came despite community members arguing the proposal was, in fact, prohibited under the territory plan. Concerns about the number of trucks entering the site, as well as noise, were also raised in more than 70 submissions to public consultation on the applications.
The site's zoning has been a source of controversy since the authority approved the company's first application to build the concrete slab in 2017.
The approval was later revoked, with the authority conceding it should never had been granted because the works were not allowed on the site.
Capital Recycling Solutions immediately appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, arguing the authority did not have the power to reverse its original decision.
In March, the court found in the firm's favour, ruling that the planning system could be plunged into a "state of anarchy" if approvals could be overturned.
Before that decision, Capital Recycling Solutions lodged an amended application for the concrete slab and new plans for the $1.2 million terminal.
On Thursday, the authority's delegate, George Cilliers, said it had considered the arguments made in the submissions, but said they "did not warrant a refusal of the applications".
As a condition of approval, new traffic lights will have to be installed off Ipswich Street to manage trucks entering the site. Mr Cilliers said the recycling firm would be required to pay for the traffic lights.
The company will also be required to install a wall to mitigate noise impacts, and plant semi-mature trees on Ipswich Street to improve the amenity of the site.
Mr Cilliers stressed that approval for the rail terminal had no bearing on the ongoing assessment of Capital Recycling Solutions' proposed material recovery plant.
"All the approvals [made this week] are for the terminal and the hardstand, they are not for the environment impact assessment of the other plan [for the material recovery facility]," he said.
The firm was planning to build a $200 million waste-to-energy plant, but abandoned that proposal amid opposition for the community and ACT Greens.
Capital Recycling Solutions director Adam Perry said he was "very, very, very pleased" with the authority's verdict.
Mr Perry hoped the terminal would be operational by the end of this year. He said transporting the recyclables via rail would get trucks off the Federal Highway, which would improve road safety.