By Katie Burgess
July 20, 2018

Plans to send all of the rubbish from Canberra’s kerbside bins to a waste transfer station in the city’s east have been dumped on by hundreds of angry residents – except for those who live close to the current tip.

Capital Recycling Solutions wants to divert 900 tonnes of rubbish a day from the Mugga Lane tip to a materials recovery centre in Fyshwick, extracting extra recyclables and sending the leftover waste by rail to the Woodlawn tip near Tarago.

Rubbish from Canberra’s red bins would be trucked in 16 hours a day, 6.5 days a week, generating an extra 230 truck movements a day.

The ACT Environment and Planning Directorate received 460 submissions about the recycling plant during public consultation on the company’s draft environmental impact statement, the bulk of which appear to oppose the project.

Of the 340 submissions published so far on their website, only 11 supported the proposed plant.

Many of the submissions were based on form letters circulated by the community councils and by Fyshwick company AllBids, which came out in opposition to the plant last month.

Most criticised the location of the proposal, the increased traffic and odour it would bring to the industrial suburb, as well as the impact on neighbouring homes.

Many cite the increased gentrification of Fyshwick, and new developments in the East Lake area and on Dairy Road, as reasons why the location for the plant is wrong.

Others say the close proximity to the Fyshwick markets, which attracts two million visitors a year, would have a devastating effect on the 50-year-old markets.

However the proponents have found allies in several residents of the south Canberra suburb of Macarthur.

Locals have complained for years about a rotting vegetable smell in the suburb, which they believe is drifting from the tip.

In some cases, the smell has been so bad people have considered moving.

One Macarthur resident who wrote in favour of the recycling plant said the Mugga Lane tip was “a disgrace”.

“We often get strong smells from Mugga Lane. It can be particularly bad on very still mornings, on such occasions we simply have to stay indoors.

“It is a pity that on certain occasions we cannot enjoy sitting on our back verandah. I think any proposal to reduce the amount of waste going into Mugga Lane should be supported.”

Another writer, who drives along the Monaro Highway six times a day as part of their job, said the litter and roadside waste near the tip was getting worse every year.

“On very windy days with strong westerlies you will always see plastic bags and paper blowing out of Mugga Lane. If the CRS Fyshwick proposal can become an alternative to the open-air tip at Mugga then I think that is a good thing,” they wrote.

One former Macarthur resident who now lives close to the site of the project said they were dismayed at the proposal, and it was an inappropriate location for the sorting of household waste.

“I know what it is like to smell the odour from the Mugga Lane tip when the weather and wind conditions are ‘right’. It is one of the reasons we moved from Macarthur and now we are facing a similar potential problem in Griffith!

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think such an inappropriate land use would be considered for the middle of Fyshwick.”

Even the ACT government’s waste division has criticised the proposal, saying it was based on overestimated rubbish figures, made misleading claims about the life of the Mugga Lane tip, and was largely moving waste from one landfill to another.

A spokeswoman for the Environment and Planning Directorate said all of the submissions would be thoroughly considered, and key issues identified in a report.

“Once the report is finalised, the Minister for Planning and Land Management will consider the report/application and determine whether the information is complete or further action is required,” she said.

“Once the authority has considered the draft EIS documentation, the proponent will be required to address representations submitted within the notification period, all entity advice and the authority’s comments on the draft EIS in a revised EIS.”