Communities oppose waste to energy incinerators proposal

Protesting the proposed waste to energy incinerators outside NSW Parliament House. Photo: Western Sydney Direct Action

Two years ago, air quality and health issues drove community opposition and the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) to reject a proposed waste incinerator at Eastern Creek in Sydney’s west.

Now, the people of Sydney are facing not one, but five proposed waste incinerators. If built, these incinerators would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, creating thousands of tonnes of toxic ash per year and releasing dangerous air pollutants such as dioxins, furans, nano and ultra-fine particulates.

The new incinerators are proposed for Eastern Creek, Blacktown, Matraville, Lithgow and Wallacia. The companies involved include Cleanaway, Macquarie Group, Suez, Energy Australia and Greenfields Resource Recovery.

Melinda Wilson, spokesperson for Western Sydney Direct Action, said: "Why and how can a project already rejected by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) come back again, five-fold? Why did the Minister not accept the IPC's advice and reject these incinerators once and for all?

“It is clear that the people of Sydney are not able to trust the planning system. Our communities are currently being hit by the COVID-19 health crisis and now we face the risk of a long-term future health crisis from toxic waste incinerators near our homes and schools.”

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There are 11 schools located close to the proposed waste to energy incinerator at Eastern Creek. Image: Western Sydney DIrect Action

There are 11 schools near the Eastern Creek site.

Waste-to-energy incinerators have recently been banned in the ACT, due to health and environmental concerns. It confirms there are legitimate concerns about their safety.

Community groups against incineration have formed in every area that has an incinerator proposal, proving waste to energy has no social license in Greater Sydney.

Western Sydney Direct Action, Blacktown and District Environmental Group, No More Incinerators, Lithgow Environment Group and The Colong Foundation for Wilderness will work together to ensure these proposals will not be able to sneak through a planning system rigged in favour of developers over the community.

The proposals will face parliamentary scrutiny following a bill tabled by NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann in the NSW Legislative Council to ban the construction of toxic waste incinerators.

Antony Lewis, spokesperson for Blacktown and District Environmental Group said: “We’re glad to see this bill introduced to the Parliament and are calling on all political parties to support the health of communities and our natural environment to ensure we are all not exposed to polluting waste incinerators”.

A protest is planned outside NSW Parliament on October 13 at 11am.

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