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Council to Monetise Local Tip Amid Landfill Crisis

Mar 15, 2024

Hawkesbury Council has voted to expand its Waste Management Facility (WMF) and attempt to transform what it describes as a “strategic asset” into a cash cow by charging neighbouring councils and businesses to use it as Sydney faces a fast looming landfill crisis,

Sydney is forecast to run out of landfill space by 2036 according to the Environmental Protection Authority. Without this expansion, Council’s landfill will reach capacity by 2029-2030 and the organisation said that this would require the construction of a waste transfer station to transport waste to another waste facility, “likely resulting in higher fees and charges for the Hawkesbury community.”

But it will be at least two years before any decision is made to expand the landfill’s operations, initially to the north on the current site, and then the west after Councillors voted to initiate steps to investigate options over that time.

At its March 12 monthly meeting, councillors considered reports regarding extending the life of the facility, increasing the ability to recover more valuable resources, and expanding the customer base for recoverable items to neighbouring Local Government Areas (LGAs).

The new proposal does not allow residents outside the Hawkesbury to use the landfill service, which will remain exclusively for Hawkesbury residents. Only disposal of recoverable waste such as green waste, mattresses, scrap metal and other recyclable materials would be available to customers outside of the Hawkesbury LGA.

The State Government says that to service Sydney it needs a new inert landfill with a capacity of three million tonnes a year, and another putrescible landfill – for waste that decays – capable of handling half a million tonnes a year by 2030, MRA Consulting Group’s Mike Ritchie said.

Council’s resolutions included:

• Endorsing the expansion of the customer base to include residents and businesses in the
adjoining LGAs for resource recovery items.
• Initiating steps for expansion within the current landfill footprint and to the northern end of the
current site.
• Investigate the options for expansion of the landfill footprint westward.
• Extend the landfill life through detailed investigation into options for increased resource
Recovery.

In a statement, the Council said that the expansion of the resource recovery service to residents from neighbouring LGAs will help make the site more economical to run. Residents would also be charged a cheaper rate for resource recovered items compared to non-residents with a two-tiered fee structure planned. This would strengthen Council’s ability to receive more external funding and provide an additional revenue stream.

“The Strategy provides the direction for Council to meet the needs of the Hawkesbury community while strengthening the Facility’s financial sustainability,” Hawkesbury City Council Mayor Sarah McMahon said. “We are always looking for opportunities to improve our existing services and make them better value for money for our ratepayers”.

Council remains saddled with a $32.5 million loan taken out to cover its mis-management of a broken sewer pipe in 2001 that took more than two years and more than $30 million to repair. Ratepayers are footing an interest bill of more than $1 million each year, with little sign that the state government has any intention of stepping in to help fund the loan. It is also failing to keep on top of road repairs, despite state and federal assistance.

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