RYE LANDFILL – COUNCIL MEETING
22 August 2016

RYE LANDFILL – COUNCIL MEETING

 

Cr Hugh Fraser – Reviewing the tortured history of waste over the last three years, I sense that this whole process of waste briefings by management is dragging on so long without a sense from management that there is some direction to all this.  In fact this notion of motion by Cr Gibb, if adopted by Council, will put us all back to 14 September 2016 when we resolved to close the Rye tip and we are now no further advanced.

 

Councillors will also recall that in February this year we rescinded an almost identical resolution propounded by Cr Gibb and passed by Council on 14 December 2016.

 

The recent waste briefing by the waste contractors association, while interesting, was largely uninformative in giving us some market overview and did not really advance the matter of the disposal of our kerbside municipal waste other than to the Rye landfill.

 

This may be the underlying cause of councillors bring uninformed and impatiently, but understandably, wanting to jump on board this notice of motion.

 

There is no evidence as to the reasonable prospects of an at least a 1m tonne pa Alternative Waste Technology AWT facility within a reasonable period – certainly not within the 2021 framework of the Shire’s adopted policy to achieve carbon neutrality. The Shire generates 30,000 tonnes landfill pa. Greater Melbourne generates 2.5 million tonnes pa. State Government policy is to “hub” waste to create economies of scale and not to preserve minor capacity peripheral landfills such as the Rye landfill.

 

There is no evidence put forward by the management to support this notice of motion or even a supporting management recommendation it can be held to if the process provided in this notice of motion goes pear shaped. This is not the way for this Council to properly conduct its business.

 

In my discussions last year with the Wandsworth Waste Authority in Greater London, I was told that the ratepayers pay a significant premium for all their waste going to and through their sophisticated ¾ million tonne pa AWT facility because they are competing with lower cost landfills. In Greater Melbourne, while landfills continue to have an economic life, an AWT will not.

 

So why can’t we have a thoughtful objective paper from management which intelligently and objectively discusses these important matters and puts our waste into the market context? If these skills are not available, the market must be approached.

 

Given that the Rye landfill generates 48% of our carbon footprint, this notice of  motion, if adopted, will derail two years of careful methodical work by this Council on Carbon Neutrality and by our CEO Carl Cowie reorganizing management to free up additional capital for community works.

 

Indeed, recognizing the importance of this commitment, the CEO created a specialized Carbon Neutrality department with its own manager.

 

The Shire is just about to receive international recognition for its measurable commitment to carbon neutrality by 2021 as part of the international compact of mayors. This too will be derailed. The science of climate change is not disputed and the first time in 21 years Local government is now recognised in the Paris Cop 21 Agreement to which 190 of the nation states of the world generating 98% of its greenhouse emissions – including Australia – all agreed.

 

This Shire has been at the “coal face” – really the “carbon face” – of sustainability and now carbon neutrality for a decade. On its reputation to date, this Shire was recently invited by the Victorian State government to join its new taskforce on these issues. These are huge reputational achievements by this Shire.

 

Then there is the wider community in the Shire – Council has recently approved rolling out its program – engaging with the community to encourage the community – by their own actions – to reduce their carbon footprint.

 

Achieving measurable carbon reductions drives practical projects such as reducing and eliminating our landfill, LED street lighting – and we are just tendering out to write the specifications for this – and solar panels on council buildings. On a community level – the southern peninsula has a chronic summer power shortage when the possibility of solar collection is at its highest.

 

These are all exciting projects driven by measurable carbon neutrality and to wean us off carbon.

 

This notice of motion, if adopted, will send this all backwards.

 

We need from management a clear sense of direction in all this. Let us find out from an unconstrained market what it can do for us so we as councillors and the community can all be better informed before our hard won capital efficiencies and ratepayers’ money is spend on enlarging the Rye tip.

 

This notice of motion ought “lay and the table” in accordance with our procedural rules  until after the Council briefing on Waste Management on 5 September 2016 when we will all be much better informed.