Residents in Canberra's inner south have called for a ban on future waste centres in Fyshwick, after the ACT government announced controversial plans for a new recycling centre could progress to the next stage.
Planning and Environment Minister Mick Gentleman announced late on Friday afternoon the government had accepted Capital Recycling Solution's environmental impact statement for their proposal to build a materials recycling facility in Ipswich Street, allowing the project to now proceed to a development application.
He stressed this was not a green light for the project, only that the development could move to the next stage of approvals.
The Inner South Canberra Community Council said it was "astounded" the EIS was accepted, despite 440 objections on behalf of more than 1000 people and a "critical review" commissioned by the government.
"To make matters worse, after hearing no news for two years, those who lodged the objections heard the news late last Friday afternoon at the beginning of school holidays," the council said.
"Clearly, the intention of the government was to release the news into the community at a time the smallest number would notice it."
The council said the cumulative air quality, noise, odour and truck movements of centre combined with two other recycling centres proposed for Fyshwick would have an "immense" impact on the suburb.
Inner South Canberra Community Council chairwoman Marea Fatseas said the government had questions to answer.
"In allowing this to happen in Fyshwick, has the government sought the views of the 1000 businesses that operate in Fyshwick, the second largest economy in Canberra, worth $2.3 billion a year?" Ms Fatseas said.
"Has it sought the views of the 13,400 people who work in Fyshwick, the third largest workforce in Canberra, who will be subjected to the impacts of these new waste facilities?"
"Has it asked the many thousands of Canberrans who visit the Fyshwick fresh food markets and many other Fyshwick businesses each week?"
The council called on government to set up an air monitoring station in Fyshwick.
It asked government to give the community 40 instead of the standard 15 working days to comment on the proposal when the development application was lodged.
The council also urged government to change the ACT Territory Plan so major waste facilities were prohibited as a land use in Fyshwick.
A spokesman for Mr Gentleman said ACT Planning and Land Authority regularly extended consultation time frames and could consider this if a DA was lodged.
He stressed the acceptance of an EIS was not an approval for the development.
"If a development application is lodged, the community will have the opportunity to provide comments on the detailed design for the proposal during the standard public comment period," he said.
"There are several issues identified in representations from the community and by the independent review of the EIS that would require careful review at the development application stage by the independent ACT Planning and Land Authority."
Mr Gentleman's spokesman also said the proponent had already altered their proposal significantly in response to local community concerns.
He signalled a ban on future waste centres was highly unlikely.
"Fyshwick is one of the few places in the ACT where industrial businesses and trades can operate from. Canberra's industrial sector supports jobs and contributes to the ACT economy and a moratorium on specific land uses that are currently allowed would significantly impact local business," he said.
Capital Recycling Solution's centre is expected to process around 300,000 tonnes of waste a year, extracting recyclables from material that would have otherwise gone into landfill and sending the leftovers to Woodlawn tip in NSW.
The company has spent $3 million and three years getting to this point.
The community council was at the centre of a backlash against a waste-to-power plant proposed by the same company at the same site.
It has also been critical of the recycling centre, which was expected to generate 230 extra truck movements a day through the suburb.