Paving the way for the asphalt industry

by Craig Beyers

As residential planning initiatives continue to try to curtail urban sprawl in Australian cities, sustainable infill development closer to city centres presents a significant challenge to the asphalt industry.

With residential housing now increasingly being approved for areas that once acted as buffer zones from industrial areas, the potential for complaint and conflict over emissions is increasing.

Timely investigation and strategic planning though can offer some protection for asphalt plants looking to avoid this conflict and the potential associated costly remedial or relocation works.

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What we’re seeing at the state government level is that most planning now places emphasis on development and intensification of specific zones, including former industrial areas, fringe industrial areas and surplus government land.

New housing development is occurring within these defined zones, particularly around transport hubs and areas with urban-renewal potential.

These developments typically trigger a town planning approval process which attempts to seek a balance between the competing interests of existing industrial operators and housing developers.

This process though gives rise to potential complaints and damaging public relations coverage for existing asphalt facilities, and post-approval, the potential conflict can continue and we’re already seeing cases of this, whether it’s in regards to potential health effects of emissions, or when facilities seek an amendment to their operations.

Either way, the sustainability, growth and economic viability of these facilities can be compromised or hampered.

A proactive approach to protect the plant and neighbours

Taking the lead on the issue before a problem arises, and seeking out professional assessment to provide the means for strategic planning can maintain harmony with community as well as protect the commercial viability of the plant.

It enables the company to foresee potential future complaints and issues, and make production and equipment decisions to avoid them.

Over the life of an asphalt plant, decisions are made about what products to make, when to produce them, what equipment to purchase and where to place it.

Understanding how the odour emitted from the various products can influence the surrounding area provides valuable information that can inform a number of these choices and therefore minimise the potential for complaint or conflict.

As changes are made to the operation of an asphalt plant, understanding how these changes could influence the ability of the plant to operate can assist in minimising the potential for regulatory compliance issues.

There are a number of examples around Australia where a lack of understanding (often by regulators and planning authorities) of the influence of odour emissions from a plant have resulted in community complaints and regulatory involvement.

Ultimately, these external factors can lead to difficult decisions about capital upgrades and in some cases, the viability of a particular site or operation which had they been considered in advance, may have been avoided.

The key information to minimise conflict risk

A professional assessment of the plant will give management three essential pieces of information they can use to minimise emissions and therefore also minimise the risk of complaint.

These are:

  • Understanding what odour is being generated now and where the influence of the site extends;

  • How changes to production can influence odour generation;

  • Ability to consider odour emission as a key part of any design or capital purchase process so that plant designs, whether new or upgraded, are able to continue to operate into the future.

Seeking advice prior to changes in production and plant operations can also protect the facility from costly mistakes.

Read more about our emissions monitoring, modelling and reporting services.


Zac & Jordan join AMG

Monday the 20th of February was a big day for AMG. It marked the largest one-off intake of new staff we've had to-date. Michelle Clifton joined us as well as Zac Heironymus and Jordan Lines.

Michelle brings 10 years’ experience in working on a range of air quality and acoustics projects including major infrastructure projects in Australia and Overseas. Her experience expands the depth and capacity of the consulting business to service the needs of our clients across a range of sectors.

Zac and Jordan have joined the AMG Monitoring business unit. Zac has a degree in Environmental Management and Jordan in Environmental Science. Both guys have hit the ground running eagerly taking on the learning curve of becoming a valued air quality professional. We are all excited to have Zac and Jordan on the team and look forward to working with them.

Michelle Clifton joins AMG

AMG is pleased to announce that Michelle Clifton joined our consulting team this Monday the 20th February. Michelle is an Environmental Scientist with 10 years’ experience in air and noise consultancy and research. In addition to this, Michelle has experience in lighting, contaminated land and flood risk disciplines. Michelle strengthens our consulting team significantly and will be working closely with Craig Beyers, our Consulting Services Manager to continue to develop AMG’s consulting service offerings.

Michelle comes to us with a multitude of qualifications;

  • Bachelor of Science (Hons)
  • Diploma in Leadership and Management
  • Certified Air Quality Professional (CASANZ)
  • Member of the Australian Acoustical Society
  • Member of the Institute of Acoustics
  • Practitioner of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment.

 Michelle’s specific air quality capabilities include:

  • Air quality impact assessments using various atmospheric dispersion models (CALPUFF, AUSPLUME, CALRoads, TAPM)
  • Air pollutant emission inventories (US EPA AP-42 and AUS-NPI)
  • Meteorological data analysis
  • Ambient air data analysis
  • Construction dust assessments and management plans
  • Greenhouse gas assessments
  • Planning air monitoring schemes
  • Odour assessments
  • Occupational Health & Safety monitoring for particulates and toxic air emissions

Specific noise capabilities include:

  • Noise & vibration impact assessments using CadnaA and Soundplan
  • Construction noise and vibration assessments and management plans
  • Planning ambient noise monitoring schemes
  • Occupational Health & Safety monitoring for noise exposure

To discuss your needs for air quality, noise or vibration assessments please contact our team on (07) 3333 1960.