Impassioned residents strongly opposed to a $600 million waste incinerator planned for 35 km from the ACT’s border are calling on the ACT Government to help put a stop to the project.
Although the facility would be built in Tarago, they say it’s not only a NSW problem as computer modelling and plume potting shows the plume of emissions and particles would regularly blow across Lake George and into North Canberra suburbs.
Communities Against Tarago spokesperson Paige Davis says locals feel as though those in Sydney who are making decisions think the area is “some kind of desert” when in fact it’s a thriving area that will only grow as Canberra pushes out.
Ms Davis says the region’s drinking water, which is collected from roofs, would be at risk, as would all the agricultural activity.
“People like to think this is just our problem, but that’s far from the truth. The plume on any given day could go to Goulburn, Collector, Bungendore and to Canberra,” she explains.
The proposed incinerator, to be built by Veolia, would burn around 380,000 t of Sydney’s waste each year and operate 24 hours a day.
It would be built on the company’s existing Woodlawn landfill and bio-reactor site, which already causes a literal stink for residents like Ms Davis.
“I have smelled that on a daily basis for over 10 years now,” she says.
Currently, the multinational company is preparing an environmental impact statement for the NSW Government.
The ACT Government has already banned waste-to-energy incineration, Ms Davis notes and recently agreed to look into legislating for the right to a healthy environment, which is why Communities Against Tarago sees it as an ally.
“The proposed incinerator jeopardises these moves to protect Canberrans from climate change and ensure everyone can access clean air, water, healthy food and nature,” the group’s petition reads.
Ms Davis says there is already a group of Canberrans concerned about the proposal.
“We believe the ACT Government doesn’t really understand the proximity and the real possibilities for increased [emissions] … the reality is it doesn’t respect borders,” she explains.
They now want the ACT Government to publicly oppose the proposal, lodge formal opposition to any waste-to-energy incinerator proposed near the ACT and ban ACT waste from being used as feedstock for waste-to-energy incineration.
Furthermore, it calls on the Territory Government to liaise with NSW Government counterparts and conduct an awareness campaign to ensure Canberrans are informed and know how to object.
The three NSW local councils from the surrounding areas of Queanbeyan-Palerang, Goulburn-Mulwaree and Yass Valley have already publicly denounced Veolia’s proposal.
At a public QPRC public meeting earlier this year, several community members spoke about their fears for the future should the project be allowed to go ahead.
Some spoke of fears for their health and that of their children.
Councillors later unanimously voted to declare their objection.
The community group against the project is hoping to get even more local councils on board but the end goal is completely stopping it from ever going ahead.
“The populations here don’t want it; the councils don’t want it,” Ms Davis says.
A spokesperson for Veolia previously told Region Media that energy from waste technology is globally proven to be safe and more sustainable than landfilling.