The Andrews Labor Government is moving to protect industry and local residential areas from incidents at major hazard facilities (MHFs).
Minister for Planning Richard Wynne has approved a new Ministerial Direction and planning policy which requires authorities to seek the views of both WorkSafe Victoria and the Minister for Industry and Employment before rezoning land within a threshold distance to a MHF.
These new measures will provide greater protection for communities and stronger guidance for planning authorities. They were recommended after a review by the independent MHF Advisory Committee in 2016 found there had been an inconsistent approach to considering rezoning of land near MHFs.
This policy responds to the dual challenge of a growing population and the need to maintain safe buffer distances for new residential areas near MHFs.
MHFs are sites that store, handle and process large quantities of hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods that exceed specified threshold quantities.
They include oil refineries, chemical manufacturing sites, gas-processing plants, LPG facilities and some warehouses and transport depots. These changes will affect 38 such facilities in Victoria.
There are eight MHFs in the area of Hobson’s Bay, where rising demand for properties has created increased pressure to develop residential areas.
This new policy also recognises the state significance and overall importance of MHFs to the Victorian economy, providing clear guidelines to plan for their future operations.
As noted by Minister for Planning Richard Wynne
“We’re ensuring the ongoing safety of communities with planning policy that considers a range of interests.”
As noted by Member for Williamstown Wade Noonan
“This is a watershed moment and more than five years in the making, creating certainty for communities, local council, developers and the facilities.”