In 2014, Ventia completed a two-year remediation exercise as part of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust's Sub Base Platypus Renewal Project on Sydney's north shore. This heavily contaminated site is surrounded by medium-density housing, so keeping the community informed was critical.

A former Australian Government facility, Sub Base Platypus was used at different times as a torpedo factory, submarine base and gasworks. Our remediation exercise was an early stage in a larger project, still ongoing, to transform the site into a mixed-use public space.

The bulk of our remediation work was due to the site's use as a gasworks from the 1870s to the 1930s. The site was contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbon, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other substances. We knew the remediation works would produce dust, odour, noise and vibration.

Given the site's proximity to people's homes, it was important to establish a strong communications program. This was the job of the project's community and stakeholder engagement program, delivered jointly by Ventia and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

Keeping the community informed in multiple ways

The local community took a keen interest in the project. More than 300 people attended an open day before excavations began. We kept locals informed about the project in multiple ways, including through:

  • newsletters
  • mobile notifications
  • web pages
  • noticeboard postings
  • community advisory committee meetings
  • briefings to interested groups.

Ventia maintained a community contact line and registered all complaints and enquiries. Our monthly environmental monitoring report was posted on the client's website.

Proactive and transparent with stakeholders 

Ventia's approach to stakeholder engagement is to be as transparent as possible, often going beyond what is legally required. For example we provided weekly environmental reports to NSW Health and the EPA, despite this not being a requirement.

Similarly, our community relations manager and the environmental engineer provided a quarterly briefing to the Northern Sydney Local Health District.

Few complaints show successful engagement

The success of our engagement program can be seen in the low number of complaints from residents and other stakeholders. Over the course of the remediation project, complaints averaged fewer than six per month.