Inner South businesses and community groups are calling for more time to examine the draft Environmental Impact Statement lodged by the proponent of the planned waste recycling facility in Fyshwick.
Capital Recycling Solutions wants to build its Materials Recovery Facility on Ipswich Street, adjacent to the rail line, to process the Territory’s waste and extract recyclable materials, with existing kerbside collection trucks transporting garbage to Fyshwick.
It says it will divert 300,000 tonnes a year of waste – including household rubbish, commercial and industrial waste, light residues from construction and demolition, and other wastes – from landfill at the Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre and recover more than 20 per cent of recyclable material currently transported to landfill.
The remaining waste will be shipped by rail in containers to the Woodlawn Bioreactor landfill at Tarago.
Its original proposal included a waste to energy plant that would burn waste to generate electricity, but this was dropped in the face of strong opposition from the community and the Greens’ Government Minister Shane Rattenbury.
Public consultation on the draft EIS – prepared by Purdon Planning – is open for 30 days and closes on June 5, which many say is too short a period to fully analyse what is a complex and large body of documents.
ALLBIDS CEO Rob Evans, whose business at 7 Wiluna Street backs on to the southern boundary of the CRS site, said the small window for comment reflected a pattern of behaviour from the ACT Government when it came to planning issues in the Territory.
“We need a lot more time, just the traffic impact alone is ridiculous,” he said.
The EIS estimates that the MRF will receive 230 vehicles a day, or 15 every hour from all areas of Canberra.
Mr Evans said his business was probably the worst affected with his warehouse in Wiluna Street having the biggest frontage of land that backs on to the CRS site, but others nearby, including Harvey Norman, were all concerned.
“It is such a central spot between Harvey Norman and All Bids. They are going to put all of Canberra’s waste there, and best case scenario is a truck every four minutes down Ipswich Street,” he said.
“It’s already congested.”
The trucks will travel down Wiluna Street to the facility’s Lithgow Street entrance, and exit via Ipswich Street.
Mr Evans suggested there were other sites further down the rail track toward Queanbeyan that would be more preferable and have less impact, although the present site is next to joint venture partner Access Recycling and a separate development application has already been lodged for the rail freight terminal.
He said the traffic impact was clearly going to be detrimental and threatened his business on that site.
“There is no way I could operate my business here, with that kind of traffic. I have mums and dads backing trailers out on a regular basis and it is already busy. You have every garbage truck in Canberra there every four minutes and it’s game over for my business,” he said.
Mr Evans said noise and odour were other concerns, despite reassurances from the EIS and plans by CRS to build a 2.7 metre high noise fence along the southern boundary between the plant and ALLBIDS.
“I’ve got people inspecting antiques one metre away from where they are going to be dumping waste,” he said.
The EIS says odour would be minimal due to the fully enclosed nature of the plant but Mr Evans questioned why the Government would consider such a noxious development in an area that was mainly light industry, mixed use, and even some residential.
Mr Evans said his and other business needed more time and assistance to comb through the whole statement.
“It’s another example of the Government trying to rush something through,” he said. “It’s a stop-gap solution.”
Inner South Canberra Community Council Chair Marea Fatseas said the EIS was a ‘massive number of documents’ and it was a lot to expect communities to get to grips within 30 days.
One resident told her she was advised that a hard copy from Purdon would cost her $100.
She said the EIS also came in somewhat of a policy vacuum as the community still waited on the release of the Waste Feasibility Study that was due out for consultation last month.
“That provides an important policy framework for any consideration of any specific proposal for waste to energy, and even though this group is saying they no longer propose to do that they still would have the possibility of doing it as a stage two,” she said.
A spokesperson for Minister for Planning Mick Gentleman said the public consultation period has already been extended beyond the minimum requirement by 10 working days to allow the public additional time to consider the draft EIS documents.
The spokesperson said the Government did not consider alternative sites as CRS approached it with their plans for a waste transfer station.
To view the draft EIS go here.