Proponents of a highly-contentious recycling plant in Fyshwick are pleading with the ACT government to make a ruling on the project, claiming that its "slow-moving bureaucratic processes" are holding up $30 million worth of investment and dozens of jobs.
Capital Recycling Solutions is frustrated the government's planning authority has yet to approve or reject an environmental impact study for its proposed material recycling centre, more than two years after it was lodged.
The company is even contemplating launching legal action on the assumption that the project has already been refused.
The firm put forward plans to build a new processing plant after community and political outrage forced it to abandon its original proposal for a waste-to-energy facility on its land off Ipswich Street.
The plant was designed to extract recyclable material from thousands of tonnes of rubbish otherwise destined for landfill. The material would then be shipped via railway from a new freight terminal opposite the plant.
The second proposal was met with similar levels of outrage as the first, with the overwhelming majority of the 460 submissions lodged during public consultation on the environmental study expressing opposition to the project.
Opponents argued that a recycling plant was an inappropriate development for Fyshwick, complaining that the movement of garbage trucks through the industrial suburb would create traffic and noise problems.
While Capital Recycling Solutions has remained in the headlines for the past two years due to the significant controversy surrounding the approval of the rail terminal, the recycling project has effectively stalled.
Emails seen by The Canberra Times shows the firm's directors have become increasingly agitated in recent months as the planning directorate continue to hold off on making a ruling.
In an email to senior planning executive Geoffrey Rutledge on April 1, Capital Recycling Solutions director Adam Perry wrote of his "frustration and disappointment at the constant stalling" after being informed the directorate needed to seek extra advice before making its decision.
Mr Perry proceeded to make the case for the project's approval, arguing that it would pump $30 million into the local economy and create dozens of jobs that would support Canberra's post-coronavirus recovery.
"The coronavirus will pass, but before it does a lot of economic damage will be done. We want to do our bit when this thing passes, to do as much heavy lifting as we possibly can when can as the recovery begins," Mr Perry wrote in the email.
Mr Perry said in the email that the company had supplied the directorate with all of the information that it needed to make a decision.
"You need to speed things up at your end," he said.
"The whole process has taken way too long, almost three years, and we see no reason why you cannot work faster to get it finalised. You simply must. The only thing standing between jobs and investment is your department's slow-moving bureaucratic process."
Mr Perry's email, and a follow up from his project partner, went unanswered until April 30, when Mr Rutledge responded to say he was now awaiting on advice from a different directorate.
"I acknowledge your frustration, and share it," he said.
When asked earlier this month about the status of the environmental assessment, a planning directorate spokesman said the process was ongoing. The spokesman did not respond directly when asked to explain the apparent delays, but said it had twice asked Capital Recycling Solutions to provide extra information.
The ACT Planning and Land Authority expected to make a decision in the "near future", the spokesman said.
This is not first time the recycling firm has attacked the government over handling of its projects.
The directors last year accused the government of "doing all it can to frustrate and delay" the rail terminal proposal. It had threatened legal action amid negotiations over a parcel of land needed for the project.
Mr Perry told The Canberra Times that the company was again considering litigation to break the deadlock. The court action would effectively be an appeal, launched on the assumption that the application had already been rejected.
Fyshwick Business Association president Rob Evans said Capital Recycling Solutions deserved an answer on their application.
But Mr Evans, who once claimed the project would "destroy Fyshwick as we know it", said the directorate needed to reject the application and make clear that such a development was not suited to the area. He said the facility would be better located in Hume.
Mr Evans said the drawn out assessment process had created uncertainty for local businesses and landowners.