By Katie Burgess
July 30, 2018

Canberra Airport has dismissed concerns that plans for a waste plant less than three kilometres away could increase the risk of bird strikes to low-flying aircraft.

Inner south residents raised fears about the proximity of Capital Recycling’s proposed recycling facility and waste transfer station during a meeting last month.

Griffith Narrabundah Community Association president Leo Dobes said the plans could fall foul of Australia’s international civil aviation obligations, as the risk of bird and bat strikes is increased around landfill sites.

This was despite plans published as part of the company’s draft environmental impact statement showing all waste sorting would take place in a sealed building.

In a submission to planning authorities, Canberra Airport’s director of planning and government relations Noel McCann said the airport was satisfied the proposal would not pose a risk to planes.

“Our concerns are focused on the safe and efficient operation of aircraft arriving and departing Canberra Airport,” Mr McCann wrote.

“Following a review of the documents available on your website in regard to the EIS, Canberra Airport notes that the MRF building will be fully enclosed and that, most importantly, there will be no open waste stored outside the MRF building inless it is containerised in waterproof shipping containers, thereby negating the risk of attracting more birds to the area.

“On this basis, Canberra Airport has no objection to the proposal. We look forward to reviewing the Development Application when lodged to be reassured that bird attraction risk is appropriately mitigated when the MRF is operational.”

Dr Dobes said it was “puzzling” that the airport didn’t acknowledge the guidelines in its response, and questioned whether pilots or the airlines were consulted.

“The airport lessees appear to have accepted at face value the draft environmental impact statement submitted by CRS. In particular, Canberra Airport accepts that ‘the MRF building will be fully enclosed’ and that no open waste will be stored outside,” Dr Dobes said.

“Given the inaccuracies in the draft EIS already identified publicly by the director of the ACT government agency NoWaste, acceptance of general assurances by CRS would either be naive or, at best, misplaced.”

Capital Recycling’s director Adam Perry reiterated all waste would be processed inside a building with rapid opening and closing doors, and there were already many food sources for birds in Fyshwick with rubbish bins are stored externally day and night.

“I have been a pilot for more than 20 years and fly my own light aircraft into Canberra regularly. I couldn’t count the number I times I have flown, with my wife and children, into Canberra Airport,” Mr Perry said.

“It is a ridiculous suggestion that a sealed recycling building 2.7km away will pose any risk. Most passenger aircraft have climbed 1km above ground level by that point.

“Our facility will not present any risk to aircraft and will not increase the risk of bird strike. We urge the community to consider the facts. We demand that the academics be more responsible with the truth.”