ShUT letter to individual Shoalhaven Councillors
C/o Tomerong Post Office TOMERONG NSW 2540
23rd December, 2009
Re: Development Proposal DA 09/2077 at 146 Parnell Road, Tomerong (Lot 4, DP 775296)
ShUT was formed by a number of concerned residents who are opposed to the above development proposal. We are aware that you have been briefed on the issue, but to date, we know of no comment forthcoming from any Councillor in relation to the matter. It has been suggested within our committee that in view of the silence of Councillors, the serious social and environmental implications of this proposal are being overlooked. The summary below is an attempt to highlight the key community concerns. An imposing number of submissions (760) was received in opposition and the matter will now be determined by the newly established Southern Region Joint Planning Panel, after it receives the Council staff assessment in about mid February.
§ The application is for a Non-Putrescible Waste Facility to receive initially 50,000 tonnes of waste per year which will increase to approximately 100,000 tonnes per year over an 8 year period.
§ The applicant is Watkinson Apperley Pty Ltd who prepared the D.A. on behalf of the leaseholder of the site, Tomerong Quarry Pty Ltd. If the proposal is approved, the tip will trade as Tomerong Waste Pty Ltd.
§ Lot 4 DP 775296 covers 296.2 hectares and is owned by In–Ja–Ghoondji Lands Inc.
§ Tomerong Quarry Pty Ltd leases 32.4 hectares of Lot 4 DP 775296 for its operations.
§ According to the Environmental Impact Statement the tip will generate 11,428 truck movements per year. Add to this, the 22,000 movements from the existing quarry and those around the site and up and down the Princes Highway will be suffering over 33,000 truck movements a year or one every 4 minutes going into or leaving the quarry/tip site.
§ What will be dumped? The proposal intends to receive “residual waste after the recovery and processing of ‘recyclables’ by specialist organisations.” Page 10 of the EIS lists, among other things: waste contaminated with lead (including lead paint waste) from residential premises or educational or child care institutions; containers, previously containing dangerous goods, from which residues have been removed by washing or vacuuming; drained oil filters, rags and oil-absorbent materials that only contain non-volatile petroleum hydrocarbonsand do not contain free liquids; building cavity dust waste removed from residential premises or educational or child care institutions, being waste that is packaged securely to prevent dust emissions and direct contact (and according to our advice will contain asbestos); building and demolition material and biosolids.
§ At 100,000 tonnes per year and taking waste from at least seven South Coast and Illawarra councils, this landfill facility would be one of the biggest in Australia. Proportionally, it rates with Australia’s biggest tip at Lucas Heights in Sutherland Shire, which takes 575,000 tonnes per year from twelve Sydney Councils.
As one of our elected representatives on Council we are anxious to hear your opinion on this proposal and as well, in the interests of openness and accountability, your response to the following questions would be appreciated.
It is clear from correspondence in the EIS that the proposal has been some years in the making and yet less than four weeks was allowed for submissions in response. Following a rally organised by ShUT outside Shoalhaven City Council Chambers on Monday, 21st September, a decision was made to extend time for submissions from 25/9/09 to 16/10/09. Do you think that the current practices in dealing with development applications provide sufficient opportunity for community input?
The establishment of a waste disposal facility will adversely affect property values and quality of life in the area. Do you believe that those who have chosen to live in the residential suburbs nearby have a right to assume that they will remain free of such an intrusive development, so out of character with the area?
Tourism is of massive economic importance in the Shoalhaven and the yearly income it generates continues to grow. In the 2007-2008 financial year tourism brought $604 million to the region (Tourism Research Australia). The Shoalhaven area and Jervis Bay in particular can offer one of the worlds great visual experiences to visitors… with its stunning array of wildlife, beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. Any development that has the potential to put this at risk should be widely debated. ShUT has taken advice that there is no legality preventing Councillors from voicing an opinion on this issue. What is inhibiting debate on the subject among Councillors?
The environmental concerns are many:
Ø Because the site is within the Jervis Bay and St Georges Basin catchments, it is highly likely that in certain circumstances, leachate will find its way via Tomerong Creek into the Basin and via Moona Moona Creek into Jervis Bay.
Ø Lot 4 DP 775296 is adjacent to Jervis Bay National Park and there is no industry in the area.
Ø Can membranes and barriers designed to contain leachate within the site, remain effective with adjacent quarry blasting continuing. Should we take the risk?
Ø The EIS offers the opinion that; “cumulative negative environmental impact……is considered to be relatively low” ….As a custodian of this beautiful area and as a Councillor, are you satisfied with this assurance?
Ø Traffic safety issues cannot be ignored. Surrounding roads: Island Point Road, the Wool Road and Gumden Lane to the south of the site, Parnell Road and Pine Forest Road to the north and Hawken Road and Grange Road to the west, all access quiet residential or rural/residential areas and were not built to cope with heavy vehicle traffic. With the exception of about fifty metres through the village of Tomerong, none of these roads have footpaths or cycleways. As a result, cyclists or pedestrians are forced to ride or walk on or near the shoulder of the road. The RTA says everything will be fine. What is your opinion?
Ø The tip would increase the risk of bushfire which, driven by summer winds from the south and west, could threaten Huskisson, Vincentia, Woollamia, Erowal Bay, Wrights Beach and Hyams Beach. Are you happy with the way this risk is addressed in the EIS?
Ø Polluted dust blowing from the site onto roofs is a worry to those nearby who rely on tank water for drinking. If people became ill, are you concerned that Council could face legal action under duty of care?
Ø The DA includes a letter from the Southern Councils Group expressing enthusiasm for the development of a landfill site at Tomerong. As you know, the SCG is a voluntary association of seven Local Government Authorities administering an area from Helensburg to the Victorian border and also the Southern Highlands. Do you think it is reasonable that the Shoalhaven become a dumping ground for the waste of other areas?
Ø Given the concerns about mans carbon footprint, do you think it is environmentally sound to truck waste through small hamlets such as Milton, Berry and Kangaroo Valley, and across such great distances?
Ø Given the amount of land available at the site, ShUT fears that once an initial DA is approved, expansion of the facility would be relatively simple. In 2006 the operating life of the quarry was extended by ten years to 2020 through a section 96 amendment. Could you please explain the nature of a Section 96 amendment, and can changes to the conditions of a development application be made under such an amendment, without community consultation?
Ø The EIS maintains that “the environmental performance of the project will be monitored to ensure that the environmental standards are met and maintained” (p3 of the Executive Summary) but acknowledges that “prohibited material” may inadvertently enter the site and will be set aside for removable to “appropriate disposal.” ShUT assumes that the “appropriate disposal” will be within the Shoalhaven, so do you think it is reasonable that we will also be burdened by the “prohibited material” of other areas?
Ø The proponents can give no guarantees that a leakproof landfill can be built and there is ample evidence that it is not possible. Given the list of toxic materials that will be dumped, if there is any risk at all of polluting Jervis Bay and St Georges Basin, is it worth taking?
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for considering our request that you support your community against this proposal. Your prompt written response to the above questions would be greatly appreciated.