Compost Works said it spent more than $200,000 in a bid to open a waste facility at Thabeban. (FILE)
Compost Works said it spent more than $200,000 in a bid to open a waste facility at Thabeban. (FILE) jokevanderleij8

Compost case not a waste, judge says

A COMPOST company's case has life in it yet after claims it spent more than $200,000 battling authorities for project approval.

The dispute over Compost Works' proposed Bundaberg facility has been fermenting since at least 2016.

In November that year, Bundaberg Regional councillors voted 5-4 against approving the facility at Kay McDuff Drive, Thabeban.

Compost Works appealed against that council decision, so the case went to the Planning and Environment Court.

The council argued the appeal was a waste of court time and "a futility" because Compost Works did not even own the land.

Instead, the Minister for Economic Development or MEDQ was the landowner, Judge William Everson said in a judgment delivered on Wednesday.

The council said MEDQ no longer agreed to the land being used for the composting facility.

And the council said Compost Works had "no prospect of using the land for the proposed use".

But Compost Works alleged the ministry changed its position in terms of its support for the proposed development.

The council provided the court with letters MEDQ staff sent to Compost Works' lawyers.

In October 2016, an MEDQ executive said council support was "essential" before the ministry would sign a lease with Compost Works.

Compost Works also told the court it spent more than $200,000 progressing the application.

And the company also said it had "extensive negotiations" with MEDQ's lawyers.

Judge Everson said the "true nature and extent" of negotiations between Compost Works and MEDQ remained unclear.

Judge Everson said he could not conclude that possible legal action in which Compost Works would "seek to establish an entitlement to a lease over the land" was futile.

The council's application was dismissed.

Previously, concerns raised about the proposal included smell impacts on local residents, and supposed dangers to aircraft from birds attracted to compost.

However, the News-Mail reported Compost Works agreed to not accept vegetable and fruit waste at the site, and had an aviation expert write an amended bird management plan.  - NewsRegional

*This story has been amended from an earlier online version which had an incorrect court result. We regret the error.



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