Words on waste leave council’s incinerator position unclear

ABOVE: Screenshot of council meeting from livestream.

Susanna Freymark

It was all about the wording in the document about an incinerator in Casino, also called an Energy from Waste (EfW) facility.

At a Richmond Valley Council meeting tonight, Thursday, June 29, four residents addressed councillors about one particular sentence in the Draft Community Strategic Plan document that had them concerned.

Jill Lyons, Pat Bastow, Maree Beek and Dr Juriaan Beek spoke at the beginning of the meeting.

The wording in the Draft Community Strategic Plan and Delivery Program was:

That RVC has no commitment to building an energy from waste facility.

Ms Beek wanted that sentence changed to: RVC has a commitment to neither build nor support the building of an EfW facility in Richmond Valley.

“Then people will know exactly how you feel,” she said.

The State Government has designated Casino and the Regional Jobs Precinct at Reynolds Rd as a “permissible” site for an EfW facility.

Ms Beek is concerned the “fuzzy words” are not definitive enough.

“I used to be an English teacher,” Ms Beek said.

“In the past, some of you went to Japan and presented a report to council in March 2021 – and you thought an EfW was great.”

Ms Beek said the council’s statement did not preclude someone else building an incinerator.

Councillor Patrick Deegan said the community was asked – Is EfW part of our future?

“It’s clear from the feedback, it is No,” Mr Deegan said.

The council received 66 submissions on the Draft Community Strategic Plan – 48 of these submissions were from Richmond Valley residents, 12 from people living outside the valley, 2 from local groups, 2 from government agencies and 2 unknown.

60 of the submissions were in opposition to an EfW facility.

Mr Deegan said it “would be irresponsible for us to ignore the community”.

“The EPA has indicated these facilities should not be in highly populated areas such as Sydney,” he said.

Mr Deegan put forward an amendment to the document.

He wanted the sentence to be: The council opposes an EfW facility in Richmond Valley.

Councillor Debra McGillan seconded his amendment.

Councillor Sandra Humphrys spoke against the amendment.

“I don’t think 60 submissions is representative of our population,” Ms Humphrys said.

Councillor Robert Hayes said he too was against the amendment.

“It is irresponsible to put 9000 tonnes of rubbish into landfill.

“Whether the incinerator is a solution – I don’t know.”

Mayor Robert Mustow voted against the amendment.

“The world has a waste problem,” Mr Mustow said.

“The options out there should be on the table.

“EfW should stay on the table with the other options.”

In the final vote, councillors Hayes, Humphrys, Mustow, Sam Cornish and Steve Morrissey voted against the amendment.

The sentence stayed as it was.

“No commitment from council to construct a facility and if – and it’s a big if – there was a proposal to build one, we would listen,” Mr Mustow said.

The final vote on the Draft Community Strategic Plan and Delivery Program was 5 Yes to 2 No votes – from councillors Deegan and McGillan.

The Draft Community Strategic Plan and Delivery Program has targets to be reached by 2040 that include:

Planting 15,000 shade trees

Completing a $60million sewage treatment plant for Casino

Finishing the upgrade of the Casino Swimming Pool

Completing the Casino-Bentley rail trail

Upgrading Woodburn-Casino Rd

And many other targets, read the document here.

Will a waste to energy plant be a toxic incinerator?
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