Western Sydney residents fight mega incinerator proposal — for a third time

Protesting on May 28 against a toxic incinerator. Photo: No NSW Incinerators/Facebook

The Next Generation Pty Ltd has been trying to build a huge incinerator in Western Sydney for several years, but has hit a well-organised community opposition campaign.

Residents oppose the incinerator, slated to burn up to 1.3 mega tonnes of household and commercial waste a year, 24/7, for the next 30 years. They are concerned it could release extremely dangerous air pollutants, such as dioxins, furans and nano and ultra-fine particulates into the air.

The proposal for the mega incinerator was open for public comment, but residents, not least the 1000 people who wrote submissions against it in 2018, were not informed by the Department of Planning. They only discovered it was back on the planning agenda from a Channel 9 news report.

The closing date for submissions against the project was June 14, which campaigners said was not enough time to wade through all the documents surrounding the proposal.

Residents organised a protest on May 28 to say they didn’t want the incinerator and that nothing the corporation had said in its new application made them change their minds.

The Next Generation Incinerator Environmental Impact Statement confirms that the facility “may release substances to atmosphere, which have the potential to harm human health”. Families live just 800 metres from the proposed site and there are three schools and one pre-school within 1.8 kilometres of it.

The incinerator will burn co-mingled construction and demolition waste and commercial and industrial waste consisting of metals, brick, concrete, plasterboard, soil, aggregates, plastics and a range of building and demolition wastes which include asbestos.

It will release ultra fine particulates, exposure to which has been linked to health problems including respiratory symptoms, heart problems and premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

Its four smokestacks would pump out cancel-causing chemicals such as arsenic, cadmium, nickel, mercury, dioxin, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and persistent organic pollutants 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the next 30 or more years.

“It has no social license: our petition in 2018 to the Legislative Council gathered 12,000 signatures against and to the Legislative Assembly, a similar number. A community survey undertaken from 2016-2022, of more than 2000 people, found that 99.5% were against the incinerator proposal,” Melinda Wilson told Green Left.