Proposed Draft Buffer Area Overlay – Planning for Amenity, Health and Safety Buffers

By on November 18, 2020

DR ELIZABETH GIBSON, General Manager of the CMPA reports on planning issues raised with DELWP.

The CMPA has been involved in consultation with Planning, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) over the last 2 years. See “Encroachment and the Extractive Industry – Proposed Buffer Area Overlay”, Sand & Stone Issue 109; “Planning for amenity, health and safety buffers”, Sand & Stone Issue 108; “Planning: Buffers and Separation Distances Submission”, Sand & Stone Issue 103 which are available at https://cmpavic.asn.au

The CMPA has raised a number of planning issues with DELWP that exist for proposed and current quarries, for example, incompatible use:

  • Residential development being approved on boundaries of proposed quarries in an attempt to prevent a new quarry being established.
  • Encroachment of residential/industrial development into the buffer areas of established quarries.

The following is an extract taken from https://engage.vic.gov.au/planning-amenity-health-and-safety-buffers which demonstrates that DELWP have recognised the planning issue in dot point 2. Dot point 1 has yet to be resolved.

“How best to manage the interface between industries and sensitive uses is a longstanding planning issue. Encroachment of incompatible uses, such as residential development, could threaten the ongoing viability of industries and could expose communities to risks.

Based on earlier feedback, DELWP has developed a draft Buffer Area Overlay (BAO) to address the challenge of encroachment. The draft overlay could be used to identify areas where there is potential for off-site impacts on safety or human health from industry, warehouse or other uses, to ensure that use and development within buffer areas is compatible with those impacts.

Application of the draft Buffer Area Overlay (BAO) would need to be based on evidence about the potential health and safety impacts.

The purpose of the BAO is to identify areas where there is potential for off-site impacts on safety or human health from industry, warehouse or other uses. The BAO also ensures that use and development within buffer areas is compatible with potential off-site impacts.”


Below is the CMPA submission to DELWP.

On reading the draft BAO guidance and information, the following questions (Table 1) were asked by CMPA to which DELWP responded.

Table 1.

The following Table 2. contains statements from DELWP to which a response by the submitter was required: strongly disagree; disagree; neither disagree nor agree; or agree. Concern is held by CMPA that the statements are an attempt by DELWP to lead the submitter into their (DELWP’s) preferred response and that other material in the submission may be simply ignored.

Table 2.

In summary, considering the above responses (including from DELWP), CMPA is not supportive of the Proposed Buffer Area Overlay as it is currently presented due to being:

  • an extensively bureaucratic, complex, costly, and time-consuming approvals process for an approved BAO that does not recognise the already similar extensively bureaucratic, complex, costly, and time-consuming work authority approvals process undertaken as per the MRSDA.
  • unattainable for the majority of quarries (generally small to medium) operating in Victoria and hence anti-competitive.
  • Unnecessarily alarmist by requiring a “Statement of Risk” which does not inform the reader of the management strategies and legislative controls already applicable for that site.
  • Silent on how to use a BOA when the agent of change is not the extractive industry
  • a useful tool for landfill operators but, disappointingly, of limited use to quarries.

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