Plans for an energy-from-waste facility in Sydney’s west has been cited as ‘uncertain’ over community health concerns and unknown environmental impacts, according to a decision made by the NSW Government’s Independent Planning Commission.
The Next Generation (NSW) Limited sought approval for the building and operation of a large 24/7 facility, located in Sydney’s Eastern Creek. The facility would aim to combust up to 552,500 tonnes of the city’s non-recyclable waste every year, generating enough electricity for 100,000 homes.
Chair of the Independent Planning Commission, Professor Mary O’Kane AC, appointed a three-member panel to decide the fate of the facility including Ms. Robyn Kruk AO (Chair), Mr Peter Duncan AM and Mr Tony Pearson. An extensive consultation process was held to decide the facility’s fate, such as meetings with the applicant and the public, inspection of the site and surrounding area, as well as a discussion with representatives from the Department and both councils.
A few concerns from the public meeting included: potential human health impacts, concerns over the size and scale of the proposed facility, the overall suitability of the site (particularly its proximity to residential areas, schools and playing fields), potential environmental impacts and a lack of community consultation.
In summary, the Commission’s Statement of Reasons for Decision dated 19 July found:
- the applicant’s predicted modelling was based on data that is not representative of the actual waste streams proposed to be treated at the energy from waste facility
- there is insufficient evidence that the pollution control technologies are capable of appropriately managing emissions from the project and would be agnostic to the composition of the project’s waste stream
- there is uncertainty in relation to the air quality, and the relationship between air quality impacts and water quality impacts in the locality -as a result, there is uncertainty in relation to the human health risks and site suitability
- it is not satisfied that the project is consistent with certain objects of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
- the project is just not in the public’s interest
“The key issue in the consideration of the project is the uncertainty around the project’s emissions and the results of the applicant’s predicted modelling. Given this uncertainty, the Commission finds that it is unable to determine the project’s impacts on the locality and has persuaded the Commission to adopt a precautionary approach to the consideration and determination of the project’s impacts on air quality and human health,” the Commission stated in its Statement of Reasons.
The Commission did, however, acknowledge that there are benefits to the project, but it was found that there was sufficient uncertainty around the project’s impacts on air quality, water quality and human health that meant that the project was ultimately not in the public’s interest.
More information on this development can be found here.