Council seeking a review of extended WorkSafe buffer zones

Published on 06 December 2022

Maribyrnong and Hobsons Bay councils are seeking further information around amendments to land use planning guidelines near hazardous material sites they believe could impact the ability of owners to renovate properties and developers to build new ones.

There are 13 sites identified as Major Hazard Facilities (MHFs) within the inner west, that handle potentially dangerous or hazardous materials like fuels and chemicals, including the Mobil terminal in Yarraville, Coode Island Terminals, and Pacific National Freight Terminal in West Melbourne.

The amendments, which were notified on WorkSafe’s website, reflect a change in the way ‘safety areas’ around MHFs are measured which has increased the area impacted to include more than 3,000 residential, commercial and industrial properties in Footscray and Yarraville, along with 5,000 new dwellings in the Josephs Road precinct.

This is 918 additional residential, commercial and industrial properties and community facilities in Maribyrnong not previously affected.

Celia Haddock, CEO of Maribyrnong City Council, said while Council wants to keep its residents safe, it was not made aware of the changes or the reasons for them.

“Our community has lived near these hazardous sites for many years and we welcome initiatives that ensure they live and work safely. However, we are concerned that the changes to the inner and outer safety areas have occurred without conversation with Council or notification to the community and impacted property owners, despite directly impacting many residents and businesses in Melbourne’s inner west.

“Although Council is responsible for issuing planning permits, WorkSafe is the expert when it comes to safety, and we would take their expertise into account when deliberating on permits that fall within these updated guidelines. This is why it is important for us to understand why these changes have been made and for our community to be told,” Ms Haddock said.

Maribyrnong and Hobson Bay councils have asked for a meeting with WorkSafe to understand if the new extended safety areas are correct, and will be advocating, on behalf of their communities, for further consultation and engagement around the issue.