Our say | Ambulance station plans are a little on the nose

YOU would not have thought a new ambulance station would attract but praise. You would have been wrong.

As Bathurst Regional Council prepares to host a public discussion forum on a proposal to build a new $4.6 million ambulance station at 6 Commonwealth Street, the plans are already on the nose with some – literally.

The Australian Paramedics Association was the first to raise concerns about the proposed site’s proximity to the Bathurst Sewage Treatment Plant and the inevitable odour that would be wafting across the station from time to time.

Those concerns have been repeated in public submissions to council and measures to combat the odour take up a fair proportion of a Statement of Environmental Effects lodged with council.

At least that means the state government accepts the odour concerns are valid; what’s less clear is just how effective the proposed mitigation works will be.

The SoEE recommends the installation of an air conditioning system that would provide suitable ventilation without the need to open doors or windows; that air conditioning intakes be installed on the southern side of the building as far away from the sewage plant as possible; and that provision be made for the potential retrofitting of further filtration on the air conditioning if extra protection is needed.

But the measure likely to attract most comment – and probably not favourable – is the recommendation to establish plantings along theboundaries of the site to screen and filter odour emissions from the sewage treatment plant.

“Planting vegetation with the potential to release a natural masking fragrance is also recommended,” the SoEE states.

Surely we can do better than that.

The ambulance station development is a $4.6 million investment in the future of our region, and one intended to last a century or more. And if the wrong site is selected now, then it will remain the wrong site for as long as the ambulance station is being used.

We’re told the Commonwealth Street site was the most suitable for the development but we’re been provided no details of the other sites that were considered.

Council, and the state government, need to exercise caution here.

Most of us, if we were working across the road from the sewage treatment plant, would want more than a few trees to freshen the air. Paramedics deserve the same.