Inner south community groups and the Fyshwick Business Association are joining forces to declare war on waste processing proposals for the light industrial and retail suburb.
With the ACT election in mind, the umbrella Inner South Canberra Community Council and the FBA have decided to take an openly hostile position to waste processing in Fyshwick, particularly Capital Recycling Solutions’ plans for a processing and recycling plant next to the rail line in Ipswich Street and the Hi-Quality proposal for a facility to process building, commercial and industrial waste in Tennant Street.
They also oppose Access Recycling’s fragmentiser proposal to shred end-of-life vehicles and other metals in Lithgow Street.
They fear the cumulative effects of multiple waste plants will result in health impacts on residents, workers and shoppers; create feedstock demand that will have to draw on NSW waste to be viable; and industrialise Fyshwick at the expense of other businesses and emerging industries.
The proponents argue their plans are within the existing planning rules for Fyshwick and will divert hundreds of thousands of tonnes of ACT waste from landfill for recycling.
ISCCC chair Marea Fatseas said the tough stand, before development applications from CRS or Hi-Quality had been lodged, was a response to the ACT’s ineffective regulatory system which was attracting proposals that would not pass muster in NSW.
”Our role is not to consult with the proponents,” she said.
“Our role is to make sure that the ACT has a regulatory framework that is consistent with and not looser than the one in NSW.
”Why should we have to negotiate with proponents when our concerns are with the regulatory and planning framework which is basically encouraging these sorts of proposals?”
The campaign will target Kurrajong candidates including Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, Liberal frontbenchers Elizabeth Lee and Candice Burch, as well as newcomer Patrick Pentony.
Greens leader and minister Shane Rattenbury has already been instrumental in CRS dropping plans to incinerate waste after his party came out against the practice, with the government banning it in its Waste to Energy policy.
The ISCCC has organised a candidates’ forum in September and the waste processing issues will be front and centre.
”We are systematically going to talk to all the candidates. There are still two to three months to get a sense of what the policy positions are of the different candidates and parties,” she said.
But Ms Fatseas said the campaign would not just be directed at local candidates and residents.
”Remember that people who work in Fyshwick come from all over Canberra, those businesses have customers from all over Canberra,” she said.
Ms Fatseas said the government needed to take a look at the big picture and what direction it wanted Fyshwick to take.
”If you had a holistic view of where Fyshwick is going then you’d be able to say whether this fits where we want to take it and this doesn’t,” she said.
Ms Fatseas said the recent announcement from Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction Chris Steel on the re-use of recycled glass in road base and around sewer pipes was exactly the kind of local recycling that needed to be encouraged ”because it’s our waste and it’s being recycled here for our use”.
The CRS proposal would mean only 5 per cent of the waste it processes would be reused locally, with 15 per cent going on the train to Port Botany for export and 80 per cent would go to landfill at Woodlawn 70 kilometres away, she said.
”How is that a good deal? How is that getting close to taking care of our own waste locally?” Ms Fatseas asked.
“This will not be about increasing recycling locally except at a very minor level.”
The government has accepted CRS’s Environmental Impact Statement, paving the way for a DA to be lodged, Hi-Quality has yet to lodge a DA but the ISCCC is examining its submitted EIS, and the Access DA is being assessed.
Other operations already in Fyshwick include Access’s metal recycling business and Tiger Waste in Lithgow Street.
The planning authority has already approved Access’s rail freight terminal that will also serve CRS’s plant, in which Access and Sydney-based Benedict Industries are joint venture partners.
ISCCC’s Kurrajong candidates’ forum will be at the Harmonie-German Club in Narrabundah on Sunday, 20 September from 4:00 to 6:00 pm (subject to COVID-19 restrictions). Parliamentary gallery journalist Malcolm Farr will be Master of Ceremonies.