ACT Labor’s shock announcement that it will not support the proposal for a household garbage processing and recycling plant in Fyshwick has blindsided the proponents and cast a shadow over other waste plans for the evolving suburb.
Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction Chris Steel said the Capital Recycling Solutions proposal for its Ipswich Street site had raised a number of red flags and now that the Environmental Impact Study process had been concluded he believed Labor’s position should be made clear before a development application was lodged and the government goes into caretaker mode at the end of the week.
But CRS director Adam Perry said the DA had already been lodged a week ago, although it is not yet available for public comment.
He said CRS did not see this coming and was considering its position. He would have more to say when the situation is properly assessed.
CRS, a joint venture between Mr Perry’s Access Recycling and Sydney-based Benedict Industries, has spent millions getting to the DA stage and the government could potentially face a compensation claim.
It appears the proposal has run into the election campaign, with fierce lobbying against it from the inner south community groups and Fyshwick traders, and the Greens already calling for a moratorium on waste proposals until there was a clear framework and a planning review of the suburb.
A sceptical Inner South Canberra Community Council chair Marea Fatseas said the council wanted a comprehensive policy statement from Labor and the other parties, as the Greens had supplied, about all the waste proposals in Fyshwick and the future of the suburb.
She said allowing an increasingly industrial Fyshwick next to a new residential area in East Lake was not acceptable and the council wanted the Territory Plan to ban such big waste processing plants in Fyshwick.
Fyshwick Business Association President Rob Evans was also sceptical, saying until the planning regime changes, traders continue to face the spectre of inappropriate large-scale industrial waste facilities.
He said Mr Steel had not provided any concrete policy or process for actually halting the CRS proposal.
Before coming out against the CRS proposal, Mr Steel had written to Planning Minister Mick Gentleman listing his concerns, and government waste manager and recycler NoWaste had also written to Chief Planner Ben Ponton raising concerns.
Mr Steel had questioned the proposal’s effectiveness and economic viability, and whether it clashed with ACT policies related to climate change or resource recovery from household waste including Food and Garden Organics, for which government has its own plans.
He was concerned about stockpiling on the site, waste coming from across the border and that it could undermine the system of waste levies in the ACT and in NSW.
Mr Steel said it also may be inconsistent with the proximity principle, where waste should be dealt with as close to the source generation as possible.
There were also doubts about the low level of resource recovery (20 per cent) and whether there were markets for this material in the current environment.
Mr Steel said the proposal was based on sourcing household garbage which the government had never agreed to provide.
”There was a lot of concern that we [the government] were supporting the proposal because they had suggested that we were going to provide them with that waste stream which was something we had never offered up or was planning to do,” he said.
He said Labor would not rely on the planning officials to reject the proposal but look at a range of different ways to ensure it was not supported, including not providing a waste stream.
Mr Steel also said he had concerns about the massive Hi-Quality commercial and building waste processing plant proposed for Tennant Street, particularly due to its traffic and environmental impacts.
He questioned whether it was needed or if Fyshwick was even the right location for such a facility, saying the current waste strategy clearly stated that MRFs should be co-located in the more industrial area of Hume.
”That’s something we need to consider more broadly with this other proposal,” he said. ”It’s a large site but also a type of recycling that is done already in the ACT [according to NoWaste].
Hi Quality’s draft EIS is still being assessed by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate.