By Danika Dent
ONE year and one week to the day it was proposed, the threat of a Leongatha South dump remains.
Its development was put on hold for the Gippsland Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan.
That plan was to outline support, or otherwise, for Veolia’s proposed dump site at the Whitelaw’s Track quarry.
In August 2015, Veolia identified the exhausted quarry as a preferred site to dump domestic and general waste from Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs.
It expected to bring 200,000 tonnes of waste per year to the site, only 2.5km from town, for the next 15 years.
A year ago Veolia said it expected to commence delivery of waste in 2018.
Last Friday the draft plan was released.
It proclaimed there were no plans for new landfill sites.
However, it allows for metropolitan Melbourne to request landfill space, in Gippsland.
That could be in as little as three years.
Off the table for three years
The draft plan said that the existing landfills run by Local Government (including South Gippsland shire’s at Koonwarra) have sufficient airspace to cope with the needs of the region for at least 10 years.
The plan does note that works approvals will be required to allow extensions of a number of the current landfills to meet future needs.
It said it would review Gippsland’s landfill capacity within the next three years (before December 2019).
However, “these activities will be brought forward if another region requests Gippsland to address a specific need for landfill airspace,” the plan said.
“Currently the metropolitan group has not made this request, however, this may change following a review of the capacity in future years.”
In the case of a request coming from the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group, focus will be on “maximising the opportunities for diversion of materials from landfill through viable recovery…” and on “economic benefit and jobs growth”.
Dump group at the ready
The local group against the proposal ‘Dump the Dump’ was eagerly awaiting the plan.
Spokesperson Wendy Reed said the group was reviewing the plan and intends to attend the next round of community consultation meetings.
“We’re still very concerned about proposals like Veolia’s that represent a serious threat to communities in regional Victoria,” Ms Reed said.
“Yes, it’s off the table currently but the threat remains.”
As key stakeholders and previous submitters to the plan, the ‘Dump the Dump’ group was one of the first to receive the draft report, as was Veolia.
Veolia had no comment on the draft plan.
Executive officer of the Gippsland Waste and Resource Recovery Group Matthew Peake said the released plan was a “consultation draft”, outlining “what the feedback has been, what the consultation has been around, and what else we need to do going forward”.
He said the change in ministers had delayed the expected release date.
The new Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Suburban Development Lily D’Ambrosio will take delivery of the final plan.
Before then Mr Peake said there would be more rounds of community consultation across the six Gippsland municipalities.
“Our statutory timeframe is 28 days but we are determined to give more time than that [for community feedback on the draft plan],” Mr Peake said.
“It’s quite a large document so we want to give a lengthy period of time to give stakeholders the opportunity to collect their thoughts, consult with the community and develop a response.”
The consultation program includes business and industry sessions and community drop in sessions across Gippsland.
Local sessions will be:
• Leongatha on Friday, August 19, 12.30pm to 3pm for industry and business representatives at the Leongatha Football clubrooms;
• Leongatha on Friday, August 19, from 3.30pm to 5pm for community members at the Leongatha Football clubrooms;
• Foster on Tuesday, August 23, from 12.30pm to 3pm for industry and business representatives at Manna Gum Community House;
• Foster on Tuesday, August 23 from 3.30pm to 5pm for community members at Manna Gum Community House;
• Wonthaggi on Tuesday, September 20, times and locations to be advised; and
• Phillip Island on Wednesday, September 21, times and locations to be advised.
Further sessions are also planned in Warragul, Sale and Yarram.
Registrations are required to www.rightcycle.com.au or through the Gippsland Waste and Resource Recovery Group on 5633 2744.
The website also links to the draft plan.