INVERLOCH’S tip is set to close.
But who knew?
The first sign anyone had about an imminent decision by council to close the transfer station was last Friday, June 10 at 3.55pm when the shire sent out an error-ridden media release on the subject.
It’s common practice to make potentially unpopular announcements on Fridays before a long weekend. Spin doctors call it “taking out the trash”!
Appropriate in this case.
And it’s already shaping as hugely unpopular.
The media release claimed, on two separate occasions, that the ‘Bass Coast Shire Waste Management Strategy 2015-2025’ had recommended the closure, one of these instances in a quote from the CEO himself.
On the contrary, the “ongoing provision of the Inverloch Transfer/Recycling Centre, including consideration of rehabilitation and environmental risks” is listed as a strategic outcome or option in the strategy, also with “consideration to redesign of the facility to address identified issues with potential to cover areas and include a weighbridge”.
Although a range of problems with the Inverloch transfer station are identified in the strategy, closure is not canvassed except via a suggestion from the public.
Mr Buckley now agrees an error was made.
“Unfortunately, this was an error. It shouldn’t say the closure of the transfer station was recommended in the Strategy,” he conceded this week.
“The recommendation from Council Officers in the Council Report being considered by Council on June 22 is consistent with the Strategy’s objectives, including consideration for the environmental impact, transfer station opening times, waste management best practice, equity access to service, possible residential impacts, etc. From the objectives of the Strategy, the Officer’s recommendation is that the Transfer Station should be closed,” Mr Buckley explained.
He provided the following amended quote:
“The objectives of the Waste Management Strategy support the closure for a number of reasons, such as having to invest significant funding, and then further operational budget, to upgrade and maintain the site to standard,” Mr Buckley said.
The media release also makes reference to “input from the Bass Coast community, groups and organisations” indicating consultation about the closure but Mr Buckley agrees this was more of a general nature.
“There was community consultation undertaken during the development of the whole Strategy in early 2015, which included the operation of the Inverloch Transfer Station.
“The consultation included providing information on Council’s website, adverts in Council’s weekly newspaper bulletin update, an electronic survey and hosting public sessions across the Shire with one in Inverloch on 14 March 2015. The consultation was about how the Transfer Station was operating and what options were available. Some of the responses recorded are captured in the Strategy.”
In fact there has been no consultation on the prospect of closing the transfer station or its likely effect on the local community or the Wonthaggi and Koonwarra waste facilities.
And yet the recommendation council is being asked to vote on, in the agenda for the Wednesday, June 22 meeting is as follows:
“That Council 1. resolves to close the Inverloch Transfer Station, effective 1 September 2017; and 2. develops a communications plan to inform the community of the pending closure of the Inverloch Transfer Station.”
That is, consult with the community after the decision has been made.
It follows a similar pattern to the closure of the Wonthaggi Visitor Information Centre, with predictable results.
President of the peak business body in Inverloch, the Inverloch Tourism Association, Dom Brusamarello, said it was difficult for him to make a comment on behalf of his group as the members opinion hadn’t been sought.
“That’s the first I’ve heard about it. It’s going to close when?
“My only comment would be that if they say they want to close the tip because of the nearby residential development, how much did they get from the developers to relocate the transfer station?”
Another local business person, Blair Hodges, said the tip/transfer station had been in the same location for 40 years and was well used by homeowners and businesses.
“It’s very handy and can be very busy of a weekend with some holiday home owners preferring to leave their rubbish at the tip rather than leave their bins out for the week.”
Mr Hodges also said he wouldn’t like to think that the deliberate dumping of commercial and domestic waste along the access road to the tip would be used as a reason to close it.
Expansion of the town east, the cost of operations and the need to upgrade the Inverloch Transfer Station are listed as reasons for its closure.
“The cost to Council to run and maintain the Inverloch Transfer Station in its current condition for 2015/16 is $180,000, while funding allocated in the draft 2016/2017 budget is $185,000.
“Residential development to the north of the Transfer Station has also resulted in a number of unverified complaints regarding odours and noise associated with green waste mulching, and if the facility is no longer able to accept green waste, it may no longer be required,” Mr Buckley said.
“Continued development will further decrease the buffer around the facility, exacerbating these issues.”
The Waste Management Strategy, he says, also identifies the facility as posing a risk to the local environment through stormwater discharge and fire, potentially impacting on nearby residential properties as well as Screw Creek and significant coastal vegetation.
“Council and West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority have been discussing a plan to improve the river health of Screw Creek, with the Transfer Station and former landfill site considered a risk and ongoing threat to the waterway health and mangrove community.
“Closure of the Transfer station would provide an opportunity to rehabilitate the site and extend the natural reserve, whilst also removing these environmental risks.
“Councillors will take all of these points into consideration when making a decision at the upcoming meeting, as well as the close proximity of the Wonthaggi Transfer station which is located approximately 15 minutes from Inverloch and open seven days a week.”
Local residents are invited to attend Council’s Community Engagement Session next week on Wednesday, 15 June to read and discuss the report that is to be presented top council.
“If Council accepts the recommendation to close the facility as of 1 September 2017, a detailed plan addressing alternative waste disposal options and transition arrangements will be implemented.”