Is it fair that regional areas should have to have to deal with Sydney’s growing waste problem?
Residents two hours west of Sydney are asking themselves that question with plans to build a waste to energy incinerator on one of the region’s former coal-fired power stations.
And Lithgow isn’t the only regional area in NSW that could face the prospect of hosting a waste to energy development.
Last year, after multiple controversial proposals in Sydney, the NSW government released a draft policy for the controversial industry which would restrict its development to just four areas near Lithgow, Goulburn, Parkes and the Richmond Valley near Casino.
And now those regions are calling for compensation if they have to deal with the waste.
The prospect of becoming a ‘dumping ground’ for Sydney rubbish doesn’t sit well with Wallerawang resident Karen Brown who said the region had hosted coal mines and power stations to keep the lights on in Sydney for more than a century.
“Which I’m very proud of, all my family has worked in those industries, but they used to say close your eyes and hold your nose when you drive through Lithgow and this is just going to add to that,” she said.
‘If it’s not good enough for Sydney, why is it good enough for us?’ she said.
Lifelong Lithgow resident Len Ashworth says he’s most concerned about reputational damage to the region from becoming a “receptacle for Sydney’s garbage”.
“This was something forced on us by the state government,” he said.
“They chose four locations in New South Wales to suffer the indignity of having Sydney’s garbage dumped on them.”
Mr Ashworth said the fact the industry had been ruled-out of Sydney and relegated to the regions was more evidence of a ‘city-centric’ state government.
Greenspot Australia, the company behind the Wallerawang proposal, have been trying to get the community behind the industry as an environmentally conscious economic boost to the region.
“These sorts of facilities have been controversial no matter where they’re proposed,” Brett Hawkins, chief executive of Greenspot, said.
The company has partnered with the ASX-listed waste giant Cleanaway, which was developing a facility in western Sydney before the new policy forced them to look further west.
Cleanaway said modern waste-to-energy incinerators produced fewer greenhouse emissions than landfill and far less pollutants than nearby coal-fired power stations.
“They [Cleanaway] were very excited about that opportunity [in Sydney] and equally I’d like to think they’re very excited about the opportunity as it might exist at[Wallerawang”hesaid[Wallerawang”hesaid
What are you willing to pay for another region to deal with your rubbish?
Local councils now facing the prospect of hosting waste to energy generators have called for compensation for dealing with Sydney’s rubbish.
The Goulburn-Mulwaree Council, which remains strongly opposed to the industry, has called for a levy of $20 for every tonne of rubbish burnt to go to the local community.
This would amount to about 20 cents for every red-lidded bin picked up in Sydney.
Mr said compensation to the local community was justified.
“Those sorts of royalty discussions are certainly on the table and I think they’re fair,” he said.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole, who is also the local representative for Lithgow, has been contacted for comment.