Residents up in arms as military moves in

From 6.30am, almost every day, the residents of picturesque Priors Pocket Rd in Moggill are woken by the sound of pile drivers.

As the day wears on, dust covers their houses and cars and, at times, foul language from workers drifts up from a project hailed as one of the State Government's biggest economic achievements.

The Rheinmetall factory takes shape in the foreground of the existing industrial estate. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)
The Rheinmetall factory takes shape in the foreground of the existing industrial estate. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Global defence manufacturer Rheinmetall is building its new factory on the opposite bank of the river, where it will produce and test new generation military vehicles.

But the construction work on the factory itself is making life hell for people near Redbank Motorway Estate.

Residents say they were not even consulted about the project because it was deemed only a minor change to the pre-existing light industry zoning.

Resident Mary Field said her grandchildren had had coughing fits from the dust and she had headaches when the noise of the pile drivers was bad. "I'm not a cleaner, but that's what I've had to become to keep the house clean,'' she said.

Artist impressions of the Rheinmetall defence Australia-New Zealand Headquarters being built in Redbank
Artist impressions of the Rheinmetall defence Australia-New Zealand Headquarters being built in Redbank

 

Resident Ian Robson said despite the huge size of the project it was "code assessable'', meaning neighbours had very limited objection rights, no legal rights and no right to even be told what was happening.

He was also concerned it was code assessable despite the Government lodging a Material Change of Use, which allowed the permitted light industrial uses to be expanded to include an armaments factory, vehicle testing ground and weapons test firing range (WTFR).

The first they heard about the project was in March, from a post on the 4070 community Facebook group.

He said the works violated the code because dust suppression trucks were rarely in evidence and water discharged into the river from the site, which had been stripped of trees.

 

"GHD did a noise assessment report, without our knowledge, which does not mention construction noise, just operational noise which it claims will be less than background levels.

"But it avoids setting any limits for the WTFR, where very high-velocity 30mm cannons will be used.'

"At a meeting with Ipswich City Council's acting city planner in December they said the allowable noise limit at the outside of the WTFR structure would be 40 dB. But who knows what it will actually be like?

"The report is full of errors, including putting my property at 20m above river height when it is 50m above.

"That means sound carries so well that when (Premier Annastasia) Palaszczuk had a media launch on site they could hear us calling to our dogs.''

Moggil residents Mary and Keith Field opposite the Rheinmetall building site (foreground) which they claim is making their lives a misery. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)
Moggil residents Mary and Keith Field opposite the Rheinmetall building site (foreground) which they claim is making their lives a misery. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Another Priors Pocket resident, Keith Field, said Ipswich City Council maps showed almost the entire site flooded in 1974 and 2011.

Mr Field said the ICC at first didn't want to know about them, but after state LNP MP for Moggill, Christian Rowan, interceded on their behalf the council had become very helpful.

"I think for the first time the Ipswich compliance team understands where we are coming from,'' he said.

His wife, Mary, said people on the road bought their properties to entertain family and guests, but the incessant noise and dust meant children's birthday parties were cancelled and they couldn't plan for Christmas.

"We have been through hell ever since I woke up to six to eight bulldozers knocking down the trees last year,'' she said.

Dr Rowan last year asked in Parliament for the approval process to be investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission.

He had also asked a Question on Notice about how much the Government paid for the land and to entice Rheinmetall to Queensland, but got no clear response.

"The issues residents have raised about noise, dust and the environment are legitimate and need to be addressed,'' Dr Rowan said.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick's office was contacted for comment.