John Drake is a bearded greenie who tends to philosophise about life. Allan Brzoson is a builder who lives by pragmatism and planning. Yes, that’s them on the right. Together they have been called a pair of maddies – ignorant suburban troublemakers standing in the way of urban progress. They form a formidable team. With no legal qualifications, the pair pitted themselves in the Land and Environment Court for almost a year against four barristers including a QC, solicitors from the Department of Planning NSW and the giant law firm Freehills.

Mr Drake, from Granville, and Mr Brzoson, from Auburn, last week beat a multinational company and the NSW Government by stopping the construction of a waste transfer station behind their homes at Clyde.

Their victory against the Department of Planning and Collex came without calling a word of evidence, and relied instead on their own submissions, and exhaustive cross-examination of their opponents’ expert witnesses.

Justice Neal Bignold was clearly impressed. “Both applicants presented as highly intelligent and well-informed persons who had prepared their case with considerable dedication and zeal,” he said.

“They demonstrated a quite extraordinary mastery, as essentially lay persons, of the complex issues raised by the proposal in all of its dimensions [i.e. scientific, technical, social, environmental and political].”

Mr Drake and Mr Brzoson objected to the Clyde waste transfer station, which would compact garbage to be sent to the proposed Collex “super dump” at Woodlawn, near Goulburn, on grounds it would greatly harm air quality in the Auburn area and cause enormous transport problems and costs to taxpayers across Sydney.

Mr Brzoson, a 33-year-old building contractor , heard about the Clyde proposal just two days before its planned approval in August 2000. He examined an environment impact statement, found what he described as gross deficiencies and threatened an injunction.

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