Chad Hayes said he is concerned that if an appeal from the company Lantrack in the Planning and Environment Court it could pave the way for other waste companies to establish in the area. (ABC: Baz Ruddick)
It has been more than 18 months since the Ipswich City Council was sacked by the State Government amid corruption and bullying allegations.
- Anti-dump groups said the city can’t cope with the extra road transport required for waste facilities
- One development application could see 190 trucks transporting waste at Willowbank and Amberley
- Political commentator Dr Paul Williams said voters are “looking for a change”
This weekend the city will prepare to elect a new council to take over the current administration, which many hope will help the city move beyond its reputation of corruption and that of a waste capital.
Chad Hayes from the anti-dump Willowbank Action Group said there were currently up to five applications in the works for waste facilities at the site of the former Jeebropilly Mine.
Mr Hayes said the deep mining voids that were left behind when mining operations finished up decades ago were sought after by waste companies.
“The dumps are a cheap option [to rehabilitate the land],” Mr Hayes said.
“Residents don’t want leachate ponds, 750 metres from the closest houses. Open leachate ponds which actually send smells and could potentially create health issues.”
He said if the development application by the company Lantrack was successful in a court of appeal, 190 additional trucks carrying construction waste could be put on local roads around Willowbank and Amberley.
Cleanaway is currently in the process of appealing a council decision to deny the company permission to increase the height of its landfill. (ABC News: Baz Ruddick)
“We don’t have the road infrastructure to cope with these industries,” he said.
“We want to see councillors that are against these dumps, but want jobs and infrastructure. Dumps aren’t the jobs for the Ipswich area.”
Mr Hayes said future councillors needed to fight dumps on behalf of residents.
“If the Ipswich City Council doesn’t win the [Lantrack] court case, these other waste companies will just roll into town and we will just become Tipswich — not Ipswich — the city of growth”.
Copping the cost
Geoff Yarham, secretary of the group Ipswich Residents Against Toxic Environments, said in its former life the city was the dumping capital of Australia.
“I think we have got to this point now because the people of Ipswich were unaware exactly what was going on,” he said.
“Every week we have a very good look at what applications for dumps are being made. We have been able to make a lot of submissions against the dumps, when previously they were just waved through because there were no objections.”
An Ipswich City Council spokesman said in the last three years seven development applications for landfills were received, and three are currently in the Planning and Environment Court.
“Owing to the magnitude of issues that will need to be worked through by experts, it is likely that the three remaining landfill appeals will drag on for quite some time and will place a significant financial burden on council,” the spokesman said.
BMI has proposed to construct a 15.7 million cubic metre landfill which would take construction and commercial waste material. (ABC News: Baz Ruddick)
Mr Yarham said companies needed to look at decisions that have been made and strongly reconsider applications.
“Instead of taking the ratepayers to task and saying, ‘We are going to appeal this decision’, understand that the laws have changed and therefore they shouldn’t worry about appeal,” he said.
“If you look at the reasons for the refusal of an application they are always well argued by the planning department. In the case of Bio-Recycle, it has already gone to appeal and the appeal has been lost so that is becoming the template for future companies.”
Mr Yarham said he was confident the new Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI), which aims to regulate waste activity, would give greater scrutiny to new facilities and applications for expansions.
“New councillors will hopefully have a clean slate,” he said.
Higher level of scrutiny
Political commentator, Dr Paul Williams from Griffith University, said voters in the Ipswich City Council elections would feel “jaded” after seeing two mayors investigated for corruption and an entire council sacked.
“This re-enforces that idea that they want clean skins and who are ordinary just like them, down to earth people who are getting on with the job,” Dr Williams said.
“I think this election for Ipswich and other regional councils is a real turning point. Given the catharsis we have seen in the last few years, voters are looking for a change.
“The bar of public integrity and public behaviour of local councillors and mayors, particularly outside Brisbane, will be particularly high.”