Truck stop fuels angst

A PLANNING permit application fuelling angst in Heyfield will be considered by Wellington Shire Council planning staff.

A motion for the proposal for a truck refuelling station to go directly to councillors was defeated on Tuesday night.

Council last month received a petition, with 227 signatures, against the 24-hour unmanned station at Davis St. The petition will be considered an objection to the application.

Council received the planning permit application in February to install a portable on-ground fuel storage tank with dispenser on land adjacent to the roundabout connecting four roads.

Twenty-two objections have been lodged with council, mainly raising concerns over road safety, and environmental and amenity affects.

A planning consultation meeting was held on July 13, but the concerns were not effectively mediated.

A motion by councillor Malcolm Hole to have the application determined by councillors, following a full assessment of traffic, safety, environmental, drainage and amenity issues, was defeated.

Heyfield resident Julie Bryer opposed the proposed planning permit, claiming the station should be constructed in the town’s industrial area.

“It will be unsafe for trucks turning in and out of the proposed area. This road is the main road to the northern part of Heyfield, and the main road to Glenmaggie and the High Country,” Ms Bryer told council.

“It will cause untold congestion and be a safety risk.

“The proposed area’s on a hill. When it rains this area drains into our beautiful wetlands.”

A petrol station and general store is located at the roundabout on the other side of Licola Rd, but is only operating during business hours.

With Apex Park and the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail nearby, Ms Bryer said the safety of pedestrians was a concern.

“There are concerns for the increase of truck traffic on Davis St, as this is the main area for drop-off and pick-up for two primary schools.

“This road is one of two avenues for pedestrians and vehicles to reach the town centre and homes to the north.”

Ms Bryer asked why a notice was not placed in the Gippsland Times, alerting residents to the planning application.

“This lack of transparency has caused angst in the community,” she said.

Councillor Carolyn Crossley said the proposed refuelling station was allowed under the industrial zoning of the land, so such a notice was not required. With its zoning, issues such as hours of operation can’t be controlled by council if a planning permit was issued.

Cr Crossley said it was best for council planning staff to consider the application.

“I really think we need to have the best arguments, and the professionals of our planners really looking at this process … to really nut out and get the best outcome,” she said.

“The process of delegation as the proven track record.”

Cr Scott Rossetti said council planners often negotiate with proponents to get the best outcome.

“We’ve seen them do it multiple times, and no doubt if the traffic plan comes back and it doesn’t tick all the boxes, we’ll probably still do the same thing,” he said.

“Our planners are actually very good at making sure that what goes through is pretty well bullet-proof at VCAT.”

According to the report to council, the Environmental Protection Authority and VicRoads have not opposed the application, subject to conditions being met.