15 January 2018

Community wins out as Hume plastics-to-fuel proposal laid to rest

| Glynis Quinlan
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Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury said the news is a win for the environment and the community. Photo: Supplied.

The death of a controversial proposal to build a plant to convert plastics to fuel in Hume has been welcomed as a ‘great win’ for both the environment and the community.

Following a battle to win support for the project, Integrated Green Energy Solutions Ltd (formerly FOY Group Ltd) has disclosed that it has sold the land it bought for the proposed Hume oil refinery and is no longer planning to “construct a manufacturing facility at this location”.

The decision has been applauded by ACT Greens environment spokesperson Shane Rattenbury who said the facility wasn’t needed and had raised strong community concerns.

“The community were very concerned – they were concerned about the toxic emissions from it potentially, they were concerned about the greenhouse implications,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The community did a great job researching this – making a really strong case so that it was rejected during the environmental assessment process.

“And now we see the finalisation of it with the company selling off the land. I think we’ve seen the end of this project once and for all.”

In a supplementary prospectus dated November 17 last year, Integrated Green Energy Solutions Ltd (formerly FOY Group Ltd) made an additional disclosure relating to the Hume oil refinery proposal.

“In addition, the Company settled the previously announced purchase of the site in Hume, ACT from the ACT Land Development Agency on 19 October 2017. Following a strategic review of the IGES’ operations going forward, the board decided that it was no longer in the Company’s best interests to maintain this site as part of the investment portfolio and construct a manufacturing facility at this location,” the supplementary prospectus stated.

“The Company therefore subsequently on-sold the site on 20 October 2017 and is well advanced in seeking a more appropriate alternative for its manufacturing capability that is more aligned with its international projects.

“The land was sold for $3,108,500 plus GST, being the same price IGES paid the ACT Land Development Agency for the site in 2017. IGES is unable to recover the $158,223 that was incurred in stamp duty costs.”

Under the company’s previous proposal, the Hume facility was to be used to heat waste plastics to high temperatures like an oil refinery and to syphon off gas, petrol, and diesel. The company proposed to process 200 tonnes of plastic a day from Sydney and Melbourne and for the plant to have the capacity to store 1.9 million litres of fuel.

The plant was originally planned for NSW but was rejected by the Environmental Protection Agency there.

The proposed facility then hit a major obstacle in the ACT in May last year when it was rejected by a government-appointed expert panel.

The panel said the company’s environmental impact statement failed to sufficiently address key risks, including the risk of explosions, the potential damage to surrounding land, and the effects on air quality.

Although the panel’s opinion was non-binding, its decision was expected to strongly influence whether the land authority approved any development application.

Mr Rattenbury today said the ACT never needed the proposed waste-to-energy facility.

“We do want companies to come to Canberra who’ve got good ideas for better environmental outcomes but we need genuine ones, not projects that are being greenwashed as renewable electricity,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The plant would have proposed to burn waste and that’s simply not the best way to use our waste.

“We need to make better use of these resources – we need to recycle, reuse them. Simply burning them is a one-off.

“It’s claimed to produce electricity which it can do but we don’t even need that electricity in the ACT. We’ve got contracts signed to get 100 per cent of our power from truly clean sources of energy such as wind and solar.”

Do you think this news shows the importance of community action? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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