We are inundated by a mountain of waste at the England Road waste treatment facility. But in the crisis also lies a golden opportunity if our local leaders are visionary enough.
By Dr Grant Cairncross (CCO editor)
And this means Coffs Harbour City Council faces ongoing unprecedented costs trucking the rubbish out of the region to Tamworth for almost $68,000 a week.
Yet it would appear Council has no plans on how to deal with what for any Council must rate as a first order crisis.
CCO understands the problem has been worsening ever since October 2018 when the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) stepped in and mandated that the fertiliser being produced was not safe according to their specifications and regulations.
In 2005 the Coffs Harbour City Council , also operating together with the Nambucca Valley and Bellingen Shire Councils, entered into a contract to 2027 with Biomass Solutions to build and operate an Alternate Waste Treatment plant at Englands Road waste facility.
The contract allowed waste from the red bins to create a fertiliser known as Mixed Waste Organic Output. This is what the EPA ultimately ruled against.
So when the EPA stepped in and deemed the product unsafe for use, Council was left with a huge bill for transport, disposal and the associated other charges.
Initially the NSW Government stepped in with an initial package to cover these costs. However, this has been phased out over time and as of May 1 this year Council is looking at covering the entire bill which amounts $270,000 a month, or $3,240,000m a year.
As a result, as reported by Janine Watson in The Coffs Coast Advocate online yesterday, Cr Sally Townley is calling on the State Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh and the Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey to step up and help. She believes State Government has a duty to help given it encouraged the red waste idea initially to several NSW Councils including the three Coffs Coast Councils.
According to the Advocate Cr Townley argues the $3.24m cost to Council per year is “a huge burden, and ironically, the State Government are reaping almost $80K per month from our community for the Waste Levy. So they are profiteering at our cost.”
Cr Townley told The Advocate that Coffs Harbour “is on the edge of a waste management abys”
In addition Biomass, is also facing a potential loss as a result too.
CCO has been aware for some time now that Biomass and the Coffs Harbour City Council are now in a legal dispute over the future of the contract and that a court case in relation to this concluded recently.
This issue is why we mentioned council provision for potential legal costs in this article here last week; https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/?p=35059
An outcome from the court case between Biomass and the CHCC is expected within a month.
The Coffs Coast Advocate reports Cr Townley says the situation is critical and needs immediate and sustained investment by State Government who she believes needs to help Councils adapt to and adopt to newer more modern waste management processes.
CCO has published quite frequently on this and we believe new high tech answers exist that could turn this problem into a golden opportunity.
These high tech answers could see the Coffs Coast become a potential growth area in waste management, provide electricity generation and that would also provide sustainable new green economy jobs while being an geographical attractor to other businesses. The answer lays in adapting and adopting the ideas and existing inventions outlined in the following articles;
For more on Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactors and Licella see: http://Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor