FINED: Ipswich City Council has fined Wood Mulching Industries at Swanbank $11,000 for breaching development application conditions.
FINED: Ipswich City Council has fined Wood Mulching Industries at Swanbank $11,000 for breaching development application conditions. David Nielsen

Big stink over Council's $11k fine and "bully boy tactics"

THE WAR against Swanbank smells has ramped up with Ipswich City Council slapping Wood Mulching Industries with an $11,000 fine for breaching development application conditions.

But Wood Mulching Industries director Tyler North told the QT his Swanbank-based company will fight the fine and council's "bully boy tactics", and denied the bad odours at Swanbank and surrounding suburbs had anything to do with his business.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has been assisting Ipswich City Council get to the bottom of the smells which have drawn 228 complaints and impacted the quality of life of residents in several nearby suburbs.

Council's health, security and regulatory services department has engaged in months of investigations into the smells.

The investigation found a breach of the development application (DA) conditions with regard to Swanbank-based Wood Mulching Industries' use of access roads on the site and securing Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) approval to use the Centenary Hwy.

Ipswich council has also liaised with TMR and if the company continues to use the highway in contravention of its DA then TMR will build infrastructure to permanently prevent access.

Ipswich City Council cannot fine companies for the 'odour' as such, but they can fine them in relation to the enforcement of their DA conditions.

"Council will engage its full force against the smells at Swanbank. This $11,000 fine is only the start," Mayor Paul Pisasale said in yesterday's general council meeting.

"Residents in a lot of areas have been putting up with these bad smells and we won't tolerate cowboys snubbing their nose at the planning conditions.

"We are very focussed on jobs and economic development, but when people snub their nose at the law it is good to see that we have finally taken some strong action.

"My very clear message is 'do the right thing or get out of Ipswich'."

But Wood Mulching Industries director Tyler North fired back accusing the council "of bully boy tactics" and vowing to fight the fine.

He also denied the bad smells had anything to do with his company.

"The smell is nothing to do with us," he said.

"There are a number of big emitters in the area.

"And where the complaints about the smells come from, the smells couldn't come from our place just because of the wind direction.

"It is like you are guilty by association.

"They have rocked up to everybody out there who is a potential smell emitter and tried to have a go at everybody.

"But they can't pin it on anybody.

"We deal with the by-product of our society and we are doing a wonderful job, turning s*** into strawberry jam, when it used to end up in Moreton Bay."

Mr North said his company updated its material change of use (MCU) and relodged it with council.

"We've been working with them to get all the boxes ticked and working with town planners to change our current MCU with a permissible change," he said.

"That is why this (fine) is out of the blue.

"It is a work in progress so what they are doing is grandstanding, and I think there is some other stuff behind the scenes they are trying to force out of us.

"But we are on the cusp of lodging a brand new (MCU) for a brand new state-of-the-art facility which will be a good news story when it happens."

Cr Kerry Silver spoke at the council meeting about the issue.

"It was one of my election commitments to the community and I am sure the community will be happy to know the council is behind them in trying to make sure they can have a liveable city," she said.

"People can't have their barbecues on weekends because of the atrocious smells that are out there."

Planning boss Cr Andrew Antoniolli said planning department and health, security and regulatory services officers had worked hard to get to the bottom of the problem.

"Through their involvement and insistence the state government is now involved and they are taking a dim view of these smells," Cr Antoniolli said.

"There were well over 200 complaints about smells coming from the Swanbank area and it has been very difficult to isolate the area of concern.

"It appears some headway has been made now it has been identified that one of the operators was not adhering to their conditions."

But that is a charge Mr North will fight.

"We'll be objecting to this (fine) on the grounds that we're already addressing it and working with them on it," he said.

"We'll be fighting this tooth and nail. It's just bully boy tactics, that's what it is.

"We are just a battling business doing good and employing local people."