21st of March 2024, 5:51pm
Legislative Council of Victoria | Spring St, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan):

My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Planning in the other place, and it concerns a proposal to build a waste-to-energy incinerator just outside of Sunbury. Hi-Quality, the waste management company behind the proposal, recently conducted some community consultations. It is safe to say that the consultations did not particularly reassure residents.

The community is rightly concerned about the environmental and health impacts of the proposal, not to mention the thousands of additional trucks that the facility will force onto already congested and overcrowded local roads.

As we heard during Dr Mansfield’s debate on a similar proposal last sitting week, waste-to-energy incineration is high risk and low reward. It locks in an ever-increasing generation of waste, is highly water intensive and does relatively little to reduce carbon emissions. It also serves to slow down the necessary transition to a circular economy and hampers the development of processes to increase the recyclability and longevity of products.

And clearly the science is out on these facilities. A review into waste to energy published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health found adverse health outcomes in populations near waste incinerators, including cancers and reproductive dysfunction. The review concluded that at best a precautionary approach should be taken.

The government seems to be embracing waste-to-energy incineration as some sort of cutting-edge, emerging technology even while other jurisdictions such as the European Union are busy decommissioning them. They have already been banned in the ACT and in parts of Sydney.

At the very least the government should be ensuring that companies like Hi-Quality adhere to best practice in mitigating the environmental and health impacts of these facilities, but that does not appear to be happening. The EPA has actually laid 33 charges against Hi-Quality for breaches of EPA landfill licences and failure to comply with previous EPA remedial notices in the last 12 months. Approving this latest project is akin to leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse.

The west is sick of being a dumping ground for Melbourne’s waste – we have had enough. With EPA and planning applications looming, the action I seek is confirmation that the minister will rule out approval of this atrocious project.

Written Answer
Received: 07 May 2024
Hon. Sonya Kilkenny MP
(Minister for Planning, Minister for the Suburbs)

I thank the Member for Western Metropolitan Region for his question.

As there is no planning permit application currently before the Government for this project, it would be inappropriate to provide commentary on any proposal before it has been lodged.

Should an application be lodged, it will be assessed against the planning scheme in accordance with the relevant planning scheme provisions, policy guidelines and the requirements of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, and I will then determine the matter.


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