Environmental Audit of the Rehabilitation of a Former Landfill for Hawthorn Football Club at Dingley, Victoria

The Hawthorn Football Club (HFC) is one of the leading Australian Rules Football teams in Australia with a very large supporter base of nearly 80,000 members.

Hawthorn Football Club was founded in 1902. The club first played in the Metropolitan Junior Football Association 1902-1913 before joining the Victorian Football Association from 1914-1924. In 1925, Hawthorn officially joined the VFL/AFL competition.

Known as the “Hawks” – The Hawthorn Football Club has a long and proud history, having won 13 VFL/AFL premierships since joining the VFL/AFL in 1925. The Hawks are known as the most successful team of the modern era, tasting success 13 times in various seasons from 1961 to 2015 and their aim is to continue that record of dominance in the Australian Football League.

In 2019, the Honorable Jeff Kennett AC – former Premier of Victoria and at the time club president, said this about the proposed development of the Hawks new home at Dingley Village.

The Kennedy Community Centre
“This is a massive project, as you are aware. The Board, staff and our consultants are working very hard to bring this dream to life. The site has had test pads installed to check any movement in the soil before we commence construction.

The Board met recently and approved further expenditure to complete the planning and design of the project and to secure the necessary planning approvals by the end of the first quarter next year. Such work is not easy, and several bodies must be satisfied before final approval is granted.”

Due to Covid impacts league wide in 2020, HFC had to suspend these works and restarted them in mid-2021 bringing a large volume of clayey soils to the site to improve the capping of the former landfill. The race is now on to finish these works so that the audit can be completed and the playing ovals, buildings and facilities be constructed.

The Kennedy Community Centre is the most significant project in Hawthorn Football Club’s history. It is an elite world-class training, administration and community precinct that will be the club’s home for the next 50-100 years. It will be a destination for not only the elite from the AFL and AFLW but for the entire community, built in the spirit of inclusion, equality, working together and giving back.

EHS Support is providing Statutory Environmental Auditor services to the Hawthorn Football Club at this former landfill site that the club plans to redevelop as a destination precinct for elite athletes and the community and their future long-term home. EHS Support was initially retained in May 2016 to provide advice on what the Environmental Audit would require HFC’s consultants and contractors to do to permit the proposed development under the Victorian Environment Protection Act. Following an initial meeting with the Board of HFC, Ken Mival (an Environmental Auditor appointed by the Victorian EPA in 1993) was engaged to undertake the environmental audit and EHS Support assembled a team of experienced scientists in landfill gas management and groundwater modelling to address each of the potential site issues to support the client’s needs.

As a former Landfill, the site falls under Victorian EPA guidance for the rehabilitation and management of closed former landfills. The Local Authority, the City of Kingston, has approved a planning permit for the development provided that an environmental audit is completed and provides assurance that the site is suitable for the proposed use as playing fields, stands and change rooms, a fitness centre and administrative buildings.

As the site is also under notice by EPA requiring the completion of the audit, HFC’s consultants are guiding earthworks contractors to improve the former capping of the landfill up to an acceptable standard and to install a suitable system to capture and control any residual landfill gas to prevent off-site migration.

The auditor role requires EHS Support to review all the available data regarding historical activities at the site, the status of the existing capping, landfill gas, leachate and groundwater monitoring information and the proposed plans building designs to minimize any possible risk from migration of landfill gas or leachate out of the landfill.

After providing initial advice in 2016, the first stage of the development is now underway and data on the quality of the imported fill to improve the cap and its placement is being reviewed by the team with regular meetings with client, consultant and EPA to ensure the work meets the requirements of the Environment Protection Act (2017) and relevant EPA guidelines and regulations. The landfill gas collection system is currently being designed to meet the requirements of EPA’s Best Practice Environmental Management for the Siting, Design, Operation and Rehabilitation of Landfills (BPEM 2015) that continues to apply to  closed landfills.

The Audit report will be completed following completion of these works in early 2023 but will require appropriate ongoing management of the site during construction and future operations.

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