Rhyll-Tip-GuyBernie McComb outside Rhyll’s Waste Transfer Station, which Bass Coast Shire Council will vacate in just six months.

A COWES resident believes Bass Coast Shire Council could be faced with cleaning up ‘protest dumps’ of green waste unless a suitable alternative to Phillip Island’s rubbish problem is announced… and fast. Council is scheduled to close the site at Rhyll this coming June, officially handing the State Government-owned land back to Phillip Island Nature Parks. A frequent visitor to the transfer station, Bernie McComb is worried that Phillip Island residents could be asked to cart their waste all the way over to Grantville’s tip next year. “I think a lot of people could end up doing protest dumps,” he said, adding that he has already noticed an increase in green waste being dumped around Cowes, and that’s before the tip has even closed. Bernie voiced his concerns at council’s final public meeting of 2012, held last fortnight at Cowes Cultural Centre. “Please tell us you won’t expect people to travel from Phillip Island to Grantville to get rid of their garden waste,” Mr McComb stated after his query had been read out during Community Question Time. Council’s CEO, Allan Bawden, said the previous council’s decision to vacate the Rhyll site still stands and that the new council has been briefed on the matter. “Are there no options on the table at the moment – it’s in mid-air?” Mr McComb pushed. Mr Bawden said an alternative Gap Road site – which was a source of much controversy and debate itself back in 2009/10 – still has a live permit and “could well still proceed”. Mr Bawden then added that the community can expect a statement from council early in 2013. Following the meeting, Bernie said he was unsatisfied by the response. “It was a question on notice and I clearly explained that it had been asked before at a Phillip Island Conservation Society meeting all the way back in January,” Bernie said. The best solution, according to Bernie, would be to simply leave the transfer station where it is, and he asked at the same December meeting whether ownership could be transferred back to council. But the decision for council to vacate is set in stone, says council’s director of infrastructure, Felicity Sist. “I can tell you absolutely that, come June, council is not providing a transfer station (on Phillip Island),” Ms Sist reiterated. “I don’t want people to think there will suddenly be a new transfer station; there won’t be. “But there are a whole lot of services out there and (council) is seeing what others it might be able to provide.” Due to its location adjacent to natural wetlands, council signed on to eventually vacate the Rhyll site all the way back in 1994. In October of 2010, the previous council resolved that it would look at alternative waste options for the community if 2013 rolled around and private industry hadn’t established a new facility. “We’ve already had a briefing and we’ll be communicating what options there are,” Ms Sist assured. “It will be something different.” Ms Sist said that council’s most recent green waste amnesty period, which allowed free dumping of green waste throughout part of November and December, had been “very popular”. She added that once council vacates the Rhyll site it will continue environmental monitoring. “We have to be involved for quite a while afterwards and we’ll be completing some rehabilitation work,” she continued. Since 2007, council has spent $1.55 million on rehabilitating the site – which includes planting of new trees – and it plans to spend another $450,000 over the next two years. For many years, the transfer station at Rhyll has been a downgraded waste facility; one that doesn’t accept commercial, industrial or building waste.