Western Sydney residents continue fight against incinerator proposals 

Activists from No Incinerator for Western Sydney at a Sydney climate rally on August 7. Photo: Western Sydney Direct Action/Facebook

Next Generation (NG) has been trying to build a huge incinerator in Western Sydney for several years, but has hit a determined community campaign.

Its waste-to-energy proposal involves burning household and commercial waste to generate heat.

NG announced plans for the incinerator in 2016. After a sustained community campaign, the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) — the body that determines many major projects on behalf of the NSW government — refused NG’s proposal in July 2018.

However, after an appeal to the Land and Environment Court, an amended project was referred to the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment for assessment.

Melinda Wilson from Western Sydney Direct Action and No Incinerator for Western Sydney spoke to Green Left about the next stage in the fight against NG’s incinerator proposal.

“The IPC knocked NG back on health grounds, saying it wasn’t a benefit to the community in 2018 — but here we are, still fighting them off,” Wilson said. 

The proposed incinerator site is next to a Bingo Industries landfill site. Wilson said that Ian Malouf — owner of Bingo Industries and NG — plans to “build an underground tunnel to transfer waste from Bingo Industries to NG’s incinerators”.

“Malouf is trying to extend Bingo Industries’ landfill and the community has had enough of being treated as a dump site, so we are opposing this as well.

“The [Independent] Planning Commission gave the community until June 14, 2022, to make submissions in opposition to the Bingo landfill extension, but their portal was down, no one was answering the phones and there was no email available.”

Wilson said Cleanaway’s proposal for another incinerator in Eastern Creek shows that Sydney’s west is “being targeted by these corporations”.

“They think no one is going to stand up and do anything. There is a lot of pain in Western Sydney — we are poorer, we are working lots of jobs. They think they can get away with this, but we are fighting this off for the whole of Sydney... 

“Western Sydney is in a basin — the air sits here and doesn’t move. The air moves in Sydney’s CBD because it is close to the sea. In western Sydney, everything sinks here, which is why we get 45°C days and why air pollution is worse here.

“Air pollution experts in the [United Kingdom] have plotted the pollution cloud from the NG incinerator and some days it has gone all the way to Bondi. So, this pollution isn’t going to be in one postcode.”

The health impacts of incinerators are “horrific”, Wilson said. “They release carcinogens that cause cancer and heart problems — these particulates are major concerns and come out of the incinerator invisible to the naked eye. Because of these carcinogens, waste management has the highest death rate of any industry in Australia — higher than the trucking industry.

“If we don’t oppose this, we could have four smoke stacks polluting Sydney before we know it. But we repaired the ozone layer with communities working together, so we can defeat it.

“We stopped incinerators in Lithgow and Matraville from going ahead. We have broad opposition. NSW Labor have said they are opposed to the project.”

[Follow No Incinerator for Western Sydney and Western Sydney Direct Action on Facebook.]