You must listen to the people on incinerator, resident tells council

Susanna Freymark

Waste is a tricky topic.

Pertinent questions on waste solutions were asked on Tuesday, September 20 at the Richmond Valley Council meeting.

Liz Stops and Jill Lyons spoke during public access time.

Ms Lyons asked the council to listen to the National Toxic Network experts about Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities, sometimes called incinerators.

Casino is one of four towns the State Government identified for a possible EfW facility. The others are Lithgow, Parkes and Tarago near Goulburn.

“Council has a duty of care to listen to the community,” Ms Lyons said.

Ms Stops said there was no development application by council to build an incinerator in Casino.

What she wanted to know was whether the council approached the State Government to be identified as a potential EfW site or the State Government approached the council for inclusion.

General manager Vaughan Macdonald said the inclusion of Casino as a site was made by the State Government.

For four years, the council has been exploring waste solutions.

The Northern Rivers will require landfill to cope with 100,000 tonnes of waste every year by next year, Mr Macdonald said.

“We are searching for better economic and environmental solutions.”

Mr Macdonald said there would be consultation with the community before anything is determined.

“There was community consultation in 2021/2022 on the EfW,” he said.

The discussion on waste at the meeting was prompted by questions from Councillor Patrick Deegan.

“It is clear current practices relating to landfill are not a solution. There are risks having EfW near food production and the risk of possible stigma to the local agricultural community,” he said in the meeting.

How an Energy from Waste facility works. Photo: DPI

Mr Deegan had some big questions:

“The State Government has said these facilities should not be built in highly populated areas as it would increase pollution.

“Why do we want to introduce the risk of pollution to our communities?”

“Are there strings attached from the State Government re funding the Richmond Valley Jobs Precinct?”

Mr Macdonald said the funding for the jobs precinct was committed and mostly spent.

“It definitely is not a requirement that an EfW pops out of the other end,” he said.

It was about an alternative waste solution.

“Landfill outcomes aren’t good,” Mr Macdonald said.

“No one wants a worse outcome. We don’t want to invest to the detriment of the environment.

“EfW is an emerging technology  and there are thousands of them in other parts f the world.”

Mayor Robert Mustow said they needed the facts on EfW to present to the community.

“The community deserves the right to be fully informed when we have the facts.

“We are not there yet.”

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