Patience for proposed Echuca petrol station running on empty

By Lachlan Durling

A PROPOSED 24-hour BP fuel station on the Murray Valley Hwy has passed the first step in a lengthy approval process despite community protest.

Echuca West Neighbourhood Watch said the location of the planned station was “extremely ill-advised” and “lacks critical thinking”.

The service station would include a convenience restaurant, eight spaces for small vehicle refuelling and four spaces for trucks, as well as 14 parking spaces and a truck parking area that can accommodate five b-doubles – on the corner of Bridlington Ave and the Murray Valley Hwy.

Campaspe Shire councillors voted in support of the item at the February 18 meeting as the proposal met council’s planning guidelines for a commercial zone 2 development.

“We are obliged to make a decision within the guidelines, it’s a major thoroughfare and it’s about to get busier because a bridge is about to be opened,” Cr Vicki Neele said.

“There are conditions applied to it. Amenity is not really one of those reasons we can consider not supporting the application.”

A notice of decision to grant a permit, subject to conditions, was passed by council.

However two residents of the abutting housing estate and St Mary’s School principal Brendan Atley expressed their concern over the impact the service station could have on the health of residents and the school community.

“As a school principal I ensure the safety of our children at all times, I believe it is not in the best interest of our community,” Mr Atley said.

“Our school is about 100-150m away from the proposed site, and our preps are closest to it. Opposite the land is approved to be an oval play space.

“We want our community to be healthy and safe. We are not aware how the plan will address vapours and how it will be measured if the application is approved.

“And if it is approved and built, what options are available if emissions do impact on our students – we are not convinced that smells and vapours will not impact us.”

Echuca West Neighbourhood Watch member Andrew Beaumont said the group could not see any positives of the development, saying Echuca-Moama already has 126 bowsers at 14 public service stations.

“A 24-hour heavy vehicle refuelling and parking area will negatively impact the safety and quality of life of the community,” he said.

“The proposed development is right in the middle of Echuca’s education hub with four schools in close proximity.

“The people who will benefit most from another heavy vehicle refuelling point will be long distance truck drivers.

“This proposal is lacking in detail and does not appropriately asses the risk to the community.

“It fails to explore bushfire risk, explore or investigate the risk of immediate environmental contamination or provide any detail of stormwater management.

“A fire or explosion close to a primary or secondary school would be disastrous.

“The housing growth in Echuca West continues with further residential development to the west and the south, with this growing, the associated traffic and activity has increased and will continue to do so in the future.”

Speaking to the approval, Cr Neil Pankhurst said the proposal fulfilled all the necessary requirements.

“With planning applications, council is charged with considering the application against our planning scheme,” he said.

“Based on what is provided there is sufficient information to justify approval.

“The application has been given consent by external bodies including VicRoads. It’s important to note all traffic movement is onto the highway and not secondary roads.”