An interesting seminar regarding contaminated land was organized by the Planning Institute of Australia (Victorian Division) on 8 May at Russell Kennedy Solicitors.  Presenters included Stefan Fiedler (Russell Kennedy), Michael Rehfisch (Senversa) and John Glossop (Glossop Town Planning).

The meeting focused on the issues associated with development encroaching on landfills and contaminated sites.  In particular, there was plenty of discussion regarding landfill gas and the impacts of the ‘Best Practice Environmental Management on the Siting, Design, Operation and Rehabilitation of Landfills’ (BEPM). The BEPM can require buffer distances of 500 metres and 200 metres from any building or structure for putrescible and solid inert waste respectively.  The implications of these requirements are significant.

A curious insight was provided by Michael Rehfisch when he noted that landfill gas (principally methane and carbon dioxide) appears to increase in concentration when associated with a significant drop in atmospheric pressure.  He noted that any testing for landfill gas should occur during a period of such atmospheric change in order to optimize the chance of detecting landfill gas.

The seminar ranged through a variety of technical and planning related issues and generated more questions than it answered.  The uncertainty and complexity of the current system was acknowledged by all.  We look forward to the Minister for Planning’s response to the recommendations of the Potentially Contaminated Land Advisory Committee.