BY LISA MACDONALD
SYDNEY — The 1500 local residents who rallied in Mona Park, Auburn, on February 23 sent a clear message to the NSW Labor government: no new waste dump in Sydney's western suburbs!
The rally was called to oppose the building of a massive waste transfer and containerisation terminal at the former Clyde rail yards near Duck River. The terminal development application, lodged by the Collex corporation, is currently being considered by state planning and urban affairs minister Andrew Refshauge.
The waste station would process waste from north shore suburbs and other parts of Sydney for transfer to a bioreactor in Woodlawn, near Goulburn.
Every day, an estimated 200 garbage trucks would travel to and from the terminal, located in the middle of a densely populated residential area and near a environmentally sensitive waterway which Auburn and Parramatta councils have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars cleaning up.
The terminal would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Odours and noise would affect people for many square kilometres. The western suburbs have the highest rates of asthma and respiratory conditions in Sydney and anti-dump campaigners argue that the dust and pollution produced by the terminal would add to this problem.
Collex's development application does not comply with the Auburn Council Local Environment Plan. To get around this, it has asked the NSW government to assess it as a development of "state significance", as it is "an essential component of the waste handling process for the Sydney region".
However, as local campaigner John Skinner pointed out in his submission to the NSW government, there is no NSW government strategic plan for dealing with the growing waste disposal needs of the region.
"Currently, waste transfer stations are being developed on a commercial basis rather than on environmental and/or efficiency grounds... Commercial rivalry is leading to over-development, so we have an oversupply of waste transfer terminal capacity and negative environmental and community impacts."
Collex admitted as much in an October 2001 media release: "The proposed Clyde facility", it stated, "would not be required if [industry competitor] Waste Service NSW agreed to use one or more of its existing transfer stations for household waste bound for Woodlawn".
The community campaign against Collex's plans has already had some victories. The original environmental impact statement (EIS) was withdrawn from public exhibition at the request of Collex before the completion of the exhibition period after more than 700 submissions against it were lodged. A supplementary EIS was released in mid-February. Submissions closed on March 1.
In the absence of any statewide waste management plan, Skinner told Green Left Weekly,"The Collex development, if it goes ahead, will shape solid waste management policy in NSW for the next 15-20 years."
For more information about the campaign, contact John Skinner and Gillian Onslow on 9646 5016, or visit <http://www.optusnet.com.au/~em72>.
[Lisa Macdonald was Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Reid in the November federal election.]
From Green Left Weekly, March 13, 2002.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.