The proponent of the controversial Fyshwick waste processing and recycling plant in Ipswich Street has pressed ahead with its development application after the ACT Government rebuffed its pleas for talks on the matter.
The fate of the proposal now rests with the planning authority, although the government has confirmed pre-election commitments to oppose the project and is looking at ways to block it, including via the zoning rules.
A coalition of inner south community groups and the Fyshwick Business Association oppose the proposal, arguing it will be a noxious activity and generate an unacceptable number of heavy trucks and traffic issues.
They also argue that the proposal is out of step with a business district that is evolving into a home for lighter industry and bulky retail.
Their arguments found favour with Labor and the Greens before the election, and the government has since restated its commitment to block the proposal.
Capital Recycling Solutions director Adam Perry said the company had run out of patience with the government, which had argued it could not discuss the proposal because the proponent had submitted the DA, although it had not been lodged officially for assessment.
Mr Perry said the company wanted to negotiate on areas the government was unhappy about and possible changes, but there had been no response.
”So why shouldn’t we put the DA in? How long do we wait, the election was some time ago?
”We’ve come this far, we’ve already spent millions on the EIS and holding costs for the land. We may as well go the final step and have the DA assessed.”
Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel has said the government would also not allow the city’s household garbage or so-called red-bin waste to be used as a waste stream for the plant.
But Mr Perry said this would not affect the viability of the plant, and would even make the operation easier.
It was a difficult waste stream to sort and had little recyclable material, he said.
It could also make the proposal more acceptable, given concerns about odour, litter and truck traffic.
Mr Perry said there was still hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste that was going to landfill either at Mugga Lane or on the road to the Woodlawn bioreactor.
He said recycling rates were misleading and the most significant number was the number of tonnes of landfill per person per annum.
”That’s the number they don’t talk about. In the ACT it’s around 2.6 tonnes per person per annum, that’s one of the highest in the country because there are few opportunities to recycle properly in Canberra.”
His CRS partner, Sydney-based Benedict Industries, recycles more than a million tonnes of waste per year, achieving 90 per cent recycling rates through advanced separation systems.
”Canberra’s ripe for the picking. It should be happening here but it won’t happen here unless private enterprise is encouraged to invest in it,” he said.
”There are a lot of signals being sent out that would discourage that.”
Mr Perry said the company had engineering solutions for odour, litter and noise, and consultant Aecom had found the traffic impacts would be minimal and manageable.
”At what point do we say, ‘Fyshwick is full, we can’t have any more businesses here because there is too much traffic?”’ he said.
CRS plans to process waste at Ipswich Street and use its rail terminal to ship recyclables to Port Botany and the rest to Woodlawn.
The DA outcome could have implications for other waste proposals in Fyshwick such as the Hi-Quality facility in Tennant Street.
The government has said that it wants waste facilities to be co-located in Hume.