Council to seek State Government support for a new tip site to combat stench

The significant stench emanating from Coffs Harbour Waste Management Facility in recent weeks has led Coffs Harbour City Council to take immediate action. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

THE current Coffs Harbour Waste Management Facility debacle and the stench surrounding the facility in recent weeks caused much debate at Coffs Harbour City Council’s recent ordinary meeting.

Long-time neighbour of the Englands Road Waste Management Facility Zeno Baston had some councillors in tears after speaking at the Council meeting on Thursday 13 May about his ongoing arguments with Council about the tip and his wife’s current health concerns.

“It has been a long and protracted and sometimes bitter and very disappointing situation of where we are situated at the present time,” Mr Baston told councillors.

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“Isn’t the job of Council to be proactive on essential services like waste management, one of it’s core services?

“Time has run out for more meetings and reports.”

Mr Baston blamed contractor Biomass for the current problems at the Waste Management Facility, and also the actions of past Council staff.

“Biomass have been the major problem in regards to odour; the neighbour from hell,” Mr Baston stated.

“It is not so much the performance of the present staff but the actions and performances of ex waste services staff and general managers with the decisions that have put the present staff in the situation of dealing with the past poor decisions that have become a contractual nightmare.

“But in saying that, management need to step up and resolve the problems of landfill and its contractor.”

Mr Baston called on Council to undertake a total audit of the Waste Management Facility and commission a health study on all the possible health effects on nearby residents of the site, and for this information to be made publicly available.

He also called on Council to “bite the bullet” and close the landfill immediately, close Biomass, and for Council’s General Manager Steve McGrath to take ownership of the issue and resolve it.

“It’s in your court, you need to solve it,” Mr Baston said.

“The buck stops at the top.”

Cr Keith Rhoades emphasised with Mr Baston and his neighbours and the conditions that they have to live with.

“No Council should make you subjected to that odour coming from there,” Cr Rhoades stated.

“I know people who come from the south into smelly Coffs Harbour via the Pacific Highway that now go by Sawtell Road and Hogbin Drive just to avoid that morning stench that gets into one’s car as they drive through.

“I feel for you and your neighbours, I just don’t know how you can put up with it.”

Cr Sally Townley stressed the urgency of the situation and the need for Council to resolve it.

“I think it’s clear to everyone in this room and probably most people in the community that the urgency of what we are going to do with waste management into the future is critical, we need to be resolving this issue,” Cr Townley said.

Cr Townley called on Council to reactivate the Regional Waste Strategy Reference Group to discuss regional solutions to future waste processing in the area.

The group, which includes Nambucca Shire Council and Bellingen Shire Council, was originally established to oversee the implementation of the Regional Waste Strategy, and has not met for five years.

“The issues were there then, they’re there now,” Cr Townley stated.

“We all need to sit in a room together, look each other in the eye and try to figure out what is going to be some appropriate solutions.

“Waste is perhaps one of the most critical issues facing CHCC and other councils and an urgent regional meeting is overdue to discuss waste-related issues.”

Following half an hour of discussion, councillors unanimously agreed to invite Nambucca Shire Council and Bellingen Shire Council to reactivate the Regional Waste Strategy Reference Group, and seek an urgent meeting of the Reference Group to discuss collective and individual options for future waste strategies including improved organic waste diversion, current landfill capacity, future landfill options, and diversion options for bulky good, construction and industrial streams and commercial streams.

Council also resolved to provide the Reference Group with a comprehensive update on Council’s activities regarding future waste strategies, write to contractors Handybin and Biomass to seek their position regarding the confidentiality of awards, and invite the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to attend the Reference Group Meeting.

Cr Paul Amos also called on Council to seek State Government support to find a more suitable site to establish a new short term tip.

“The current Coffs Harbour tip is at the end of its lifetime,” Cr Amos stated.

“A waste disposal solution is imperative for Coffs Harbour and decisive action is needed now.

“It is socially and environmentally irresponsible to shift our waste problems to other local government areas.”

Councillors unanimously resolved for Council to make immediate representation to the NSW State Government seeking support to identify a suitable site and apply for the relevant approvals in State Forest land to the west of Coffs Harbour to establish a new, short term tip site.

This site will aspire to serve Coffs Harbour from 2027-2040 with viable new approved waste technology anticipated to be applied and the State Forest site retired at this time.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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