RESIDENTS in Canberra’s inner south will have just over three weeks to raise their objections to controversial plans for a new recycling centre in Fyshwick.
A development application for Capital Recycling Solutions (CRS) materials recovery facility in Ipswich Street is now imminent, after the ACT government accepted the proponent’s environmental impact study (EIS).
Members of the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC) say a three-week community consultation period is “unacceptable” and a “mockery to the process”.
The council is calling on the government to extend the consultation period from 15 working days to 45 working days, given the “massive” amount of documentation needing to be “absorbed” and “responded” to.
“We will need more time,” ISCCC chair Marea Fatseas said.
“This is a significant development and there will be masses of documents to wade through, we are all volunteers, it’s a mockery.”
CRS, a joint venture between Access Recycling and Sydney-based Benedict Industries, wants to build its materials recovery facility on Ipswich Street, adjacent to the rail line, to process the territory’s waste and extract recyclable materials, with existing kerbside collection trucks transporting garbage to Fyshwick.
CRS director Adam Perry said the project will bring $30 million worth of investment and dozens of jobs, supporting the territory’s post-coronavirus recovery.
He labelled the ISCCC’s calls for a longer consultation period as “disingenuous”, and will only serve to “delay” and “frustrate” the company’s plans.
“Community groups have a genuine place in the planning process but I think the ISCCC has become a grandstanding opportunity for a handful of people who would object to anything without offering alternative ideas,” said Perry.
“The horse has bolted, the EIS looked at the impact of the proposed development from traffic to odour to impacts during construction, every single element of impact was considered in the EIS and the minister has accepted that.”
Despite 400 objections on behalf of more than 1000 people and a “critical review” commissioned by the government, Fatseas says the ISCCC was “astounded” that the EIS was accepted, late on a Friday afternoon in July.
But a spokesperson for the ACT government said the acceptance of the EIS was not a green light for the development to go ahead.
“There are several issues identified in representations from the community and by the independent review of the EIS that would require careful review at the development application stage by the independent ACT Planning and Land Authority,” the spokesperson said.
“The ACT Planning and Land Authority regularly extends consultation timeframes and can consider this if a DA is lodged.”
The spokesperson added that the proponent has already “altered” their proposal “significantly” in response to local community concerns.
The project – three years in the pipeline and designed to improve the territory’s recycling capabilities – will divert 300,000 tonnes a year of waste from landfill at the Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre and recover recyclables, which it will ship by rail to Port Botany. Any remaining waste will go by rail in containers to Veolia’s Woodlawn Bioreactor at Tarago.
“All we are simply trying to do is improve recycling and lessen the amount of material that’s being buried in Mugga Lane and that landfill is diabolical, it smells out there and there’s litter blowing everywhere,” Perry said.
“The territory was not performing well in recycling and has one of the worst performing landfill rates per capita and so the ACT government were looking for solutions, and we could offer solutions, so we put our hand up and said this is what we can do.
“We can point to many facilities like what we are proposing, it’s not new technology, we are doing the same thing as everywhere else in the world.”
The ISCCC remains sceptical of the “claimed recycling benefits” and says the cumulative air quality, noise, odour and truck movements of the facility combined with two other recycling centres proposed for Fyshwick would have an “immense” impact on the suburb.
“The government isn’t listening to the concerns of residents of Narrabundah, Fyshwick, Symonston, Griffith and Kingston, thousands of whom live less than two kilometres from the proposed waste-hub sites,” Fatseas said.
“In allowing this to happen in Fyshwick, has the government sought the views of the 1000 businesses that operate in Fyshwick, the second largest economy in Canberra, worth $2.3 billion a year?
“Has it asked the three childcare centres in Fyshwick and Symonston and the parents of the children who attend them?”
Perry said: “They [ISCCC] say odour is one of the sticking points but there are two identical facilities in Sydney and you can stand right next to them and they don’t smell, they are built to contain the odour.”
“We welcome comments from the ISCCC, I haven’t heard from them for a long time and I would be happy to answer questions.
“Perhaps they ought to remember we are trying to come up with a solution for their rubbish.”