By Kirra Grimes
BASS Coast Shire Council’s decision to purchase land on Gap Road, Cowes for a new transfer station has not gone down well with the neighbours.
The proposed transfer station site, purchased for $1.6 million in December 2019, sits between The Shearing Shed function centre on one side and the Wimbledon Heights residential area on the other, and representatives of both have expressed concerns about the potential impact of the development.
Greg Patton of The Shearing Shed says his business risks losing customers due to the high volume of traffic and associated dust and noise generated by the operation of a transfer station.
The Shearing Shed currently hosts around 50 weddings a year, and Greg’s worried the transfer station and its driveway could be built close to his boundary, tainting brides’ first impressions and spoiling the serenity of an outdoor billabong area created specifically for ceremonies.
“Fifty weddings means 50 brides potentially having trucks driving up beside them while they’re reciting their vows,” Greg said.
“It would just be a bit of a turn off if the entrance to the transfer station was right next to our wedding facility. A lot of brides would just drive straight past if they saw that; I’m sure they would,” he said.
Wimbledon Heights residents will have a clear view of the transfer station from their elevated position to the north, and they’re concerned about the effect this could have on property values.
Bevan Clarkson, who bought his house in Wimbledon Heights about a year ago, said the sight of the transfer station, as well as the increase in traffic, would upset a lot of people, and it was likely residents would band together to oppose the development.
“I moved out here because it’s quieter than Cowes – if they build this, more trucks will come out; and who knows what sort of machinery they’re going to put in,” Bevan said.
“It will affect the value of property; the market value of houses in Wimbledon Heights is going to go down because of this now.
“I’ll sign petitions to stop it; I’ll go to council and ask them why they’re going ahead with it; I’ll talk to my neighbours see what they want to do about it too,” he said.
Those neighbours feel they’ve been deliberately kept in the dark about council’s plans for the site, Bevan said.
“The way they’ve bought the property is very suspicious. The vote to buy it was not done in public, and no one’s seen any plans as to how they’re going to set it up,” he said.
“We’ve seen people out there doing soil samples but we don’t know what’s going on.
“No one even knows what type of transfer station – is it garbage? Industrial waste? Crushed concrete? Green waste? They’re not saying anything to anybody about it. It’s like they’re trying to get it done underneath the carpet.”
Council says it chose to spend its Phillip Island Transfer Station and Council Depot budget allocation on the 45.8 hectare site at Lot 1, 380 Back Beach Road (which only has frontage on Gap Road), after considering “a number of other options,” because its large size “offers opportunities to achieve additional benefits for the Phillip Island community, as only about 4.5ha is needed for council use”.
The size of the site also means the transfer station “can be situated to minimise impact on neighbouring properties,” a council press release in December stated.
Chief executive Ali Wastie recently confirmed the proposed development would be subject to Sustainability Victoria and EPA approvals as well as the standard planning permit process.
There would be no landfill site associated with the transfer station, Ms Wastie said, and council would provide detailed images of the location of the facility as part of the consultation process with community, which was expected to start in the second half of 2020.
The total cost of the project, to be delivered over the next two to three years, was estimated at $9 million.