Highbury Residential And Open Space DPA

18 Nov 2009 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Urban Development and Planning a question about the Highbury Residential and Open Space DPA.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Honourable members may be aware of the Highbury Residential and Open Space DPA which was subject to some environmental testing. An independent environmental test found that groundwater monitoring wells had identified lead, selenium, zinc and ammonia concentrations in groundwater marginally exceeding one or more of the SA EPA criteria. There were concentrations of ammonia from adjacent landfill sites and carbon dioxide concentrations above EPA criteria, among other issues.

The EPA has advised the Messenger Leader that the testing method was inappropriate and that the tests need to be redone with special landfill gas probes. In September the Minister for Urban Development and Planning, conjunctly with the Minister for the Environment, announced that the DPA was being put on hold for further independent environmental testing, including monthly monitoring of landfill gases. My questions to the minister are:

1. Are there any results yet from those further environmental tests?

2. Will the EPA results be made public?

3. Are the proposed distances, in the original DPA, between residential zones and methane inundation compliant with the EPA?

4. Why is the maximum suggested height three storeys when the existing area is two storeys?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Mineral Resources Development, Minister for Urban Development and Planning, Minister for Small Business) (14:49): There are a number of questions there. What I can say about the Highbury Development Plan Amendment is that, unless the government had pushed this development plan amendment, I do not think the councils that own the Highbury landfill (through a joint body), which has been the cause of problems in that area for many decades, would have taken the action that they did to try to address some of these long-standing issues.

I have to say that one of the benefits of the proposal to consider the development at Highbury has been that the landfill authority has finally got around to capping that landfill. As the honourable member announced in a question (remembering that the development plan amendment was considering development on the east of the current landfill site), the EPA suggested that further work was required before development should be permitted there. The government accepted the EPA advice. I am not aware of any further results. At this stage they would probably go to the EPA, and they would be the responsibility of my colleague, as indeed would any decision about releasing those results.

I presume at the end of it there will have to be some report, which obviously would be made public before there was any further consideration of the development plan, but whether there will be any preliminary release of results I guess is a matter for the EPA. Ultimately one would presume that all the information would have to be in the public domain before any further decision were taken. As I understand it, there has been testing for some time in relation to the suburbs to the west of the Highbury landfill. That has been undertaken for some time. The question in relation to the proposed development plan amendment related to those areas to the east and south of the Highbury landfill, which is where the former sand mine quarry operated by CEMEX is, and that is where the 70 hectares or so of land that is proposed to be developed is located. That obviously will be put on hold until the EPA gives clearance in relation to any issues that might arise from the former landfill.

One would hope that, as a result of the action that has been taken—and the landfill has been closed for at least a decade or so—and with all the work that has been undertaken in the past couple of years, any issues have been largely addressed or could be managed into the future. Obviously, we will await the clearance of the EPA in relation to that.

The honourable member also asked some questions about clearances from that. Obviously, the government will not be approving any rezoning of any part of the area, regardless of the distance, until the results of that further work have come in and the EPA has given a clean bill of health to that area. There may be some debate about what is an appropriate distance from a former landfill, but the government has put the whole development plan amendment on hold.

Clearly, if one goes out to the west of the landfill, there are houses quite close to it that have been there for decades—at least 20 years, I would think, in most of that area. In relation tothose areas to the east and south, the government will not consider any rezoning and therefore any building on those areas unless and until this matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the EPA.