By Dan Jervis-Bardy
March 19, 2019

Capital Recycling Solutions’ bid to transport rail freight from its Fyshwick base is one step closer, lodging plans for a $1.2 million terminal at the site.

It comes as the Supreme Court delivered a decisive victory for the waste management firm on Friday, ruling the ACT Planning and Land Authority had invalidly revoked an earlier approval for the first stage of the project.

Capital Recycling Solutions wants to build a terminal off Ipswich Street so it can transport recyclable materials via railway to Goulburn, then Port Botany.

The company trucks about 30 shipping containers a week from Fyshwick to Goulburn, a process it’s director, Adam Perry, described as “crazy”.

“We should be loading trains with freight in Canberra, not trucking them down the highway to Goulburn to go on the train,” Mr Perry said.

“Every capital city in Australia has a railway freight terminal. In NSW towns such as Griffith, Wagga, Albury, Dubbo and Bathurst all have railway freight terminals, from where shipping containers are taken directly to the port. This gets trucks off our highways.”

The land earmarked for the rail freight terminal is zoned for rail use, meaning the application is unlikely to attract the same controversy which has so far plagued the project.

In 2017, the planning authority approved the company’s application to build a concrete slab – known as a handstand – at its site to allow for truck access. The decision came despite Capital Recycling Solutions having yet to finalise a deal with the ACT government to secure the land.

But in August last year, the authority revoked the approval, conceding it should never have been given because the proposed works were not permitted on the site under the territory plan.

The company immediately launched legal action to challenge the decision, arguing the government did not have the power to overturn the original approval.

On Friday, Associate Justice Verity McWilliam ruled in favour of Mr Perry’s firm. In her judgment, she warned the planning system could be plunged into a “state of anarchy” if approvals could be made one day and rescinded the next.

The ruling was welcomed by Mr Perry, who described it as a win for common sense.

He said the company had lodged amended plans for the concrete slab, which he understood were in the final stages of assessment.

The revised application made it clear that the structure was not, in and of itself, a “rail use”, he said.

He said the rail freight proposal made economic sense, and would go ahead regardless of the outcome of Capital Recycling Solutions’ plans for a material recovery facility at its Fyshwick base.

That proposal, which is subject of an ongoing environmental impact assessment, was put forward after it abandoned plans for a $200 million waste-to-energy plant amid opposition from the community and ACT Greens.

Consultation on plans for the rail freight terminal is open until April 1.