Se­crecy rub­bished


Hills Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Sarah Brookes

HOUSE­HOLD rub­bish looks set to be trucked to an in­cin­er­a­tor in Rock­ing­ham after Shire of Mun­dar­ing coun­cil­lors met be­hind closed doors on Tues­day night to sup­port the plan.

Last month the East­ern Metropoli­tan Re­gional Coun­cil (EMRC) con­firmed a con­sor­tium led by Hi­tachi Zosen Inova was the pre­ferred ten­der to process the waste at its yet-to-be-built East Rock­ing­ham Re­source Re­cov­ery Fa­cil­ity.

EMRC chairman David Fardig said five of its six mem­ber coun­cils – the Shire of Mun­dar­ing and the cities of Swan, Kala­munda, Bayswa­ter and Bel­mont – had re­solved to sup­port the project.

“This is suf­fi­cient to progress with the project and the EMRC will progress the var­i­ous agree­ments with HZI and fi­nalise them once the re­main­ing mem­ber coun­cil has con­sid­ered the item,” he said.

De­tails of the deal have been shrouded in se­crecy be­cause it con­tains mat­ters the EMRC say are com­mer­cially con­fi­den­tial.

Rates Mun­dar­ing con­vener John Bell said the com­mu­nity was be­ing kept in the dark over the cost and po­ten­tial risks of the pro­posal.

“Information is be­ing gagged by the EMRC un­der a com­mer­cia­land-in-con­fi­dence cloak,” he said.

“This is de­spite the fact that EMRC is likely to be sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial ben­e­fi­cia­ries. This is bad gov­er­nance and se­cret squir­rel busi­ness at its worst.

“The burn­ing ques­tion which re­mains unan­swered is what will be the cost to us, the ratepay­ers, and what are the risks to our com­mu­nity?”

Mun­dar­ing coun­cil­lor Lynn Fisher said she un­der­stood the com­mu­nity’s frus­tra­tion over the lack of public information on the pro­posal.

“I do not con­trol what information is avail­able; the EMRC con­trols it and I can­not breach con­fi­den­tial­ity,” she said.

“The de­ci­sion is based on a lot work­shop­ping, ques­tions and doc­u­ment read­ing by coun­cil­lors over at least the past two years.

“Ques­tions raised by res­i­dents have been an­swered in the work­shops, but all of the an­swers are not pub­licly avail­able due to what has been iden­ti­fied by the EMRC as com­mer­cial in con­fi­dence.”

WA Greens East Metropoli­tan MLC Tim Clif­ford said res­i­dents should have a say.

“The lo­cal com­mu­nity is be­ing left in the dark when it comes to de­ci­sions about how their waste will be treated,” he said,

“This EMRC pro­posal will see resid­ual waste from lo­cal res­i­dents trucked as far as 100km south to the ERRRF.

“There is a lack of trans­parency in com­mu­ni­cat­ing and con­sult­ing with the very res­i­dents who have been re­duc­ing, re­cy­cling and reusing. Surely they should have a say in this.”

En­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paigner Jane Brem­mer said she was out­raged all mem­ber coun­cils went be­hind closed doors to dis­cuss a de­ci­sion ‘clearly in the public in­ter­est’.

“The EMRC’s waste ad­min­is­tra­tion has for decades rail­roaded the east metro com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, into sup­port­ing this pol­lut­ing and un­sus­tain­able tech­nol­ogy,” she said,

“Coun­cil­lors have faced se­ri­ous threats of le­gal ac­tion by EMRC ad­min­is­tra­tion at­tached to the con­fi­den­tial­ity re­stric­tions im­posed on mem­bers about what is es­sen­tially a public in­ter­est is­sue and ma­jor en­vi­ron­men­tal jus­tice threat.

“The re­gion has con­sis­tently re­jected this dirty en­ergy waste dis­posal tech­nol­ogy in favour of more sus­tain­able and ef­fec­tive zero waste so­lu­tions.

“The EMRC has made the wrong tech­nol­ogy de­ci­sion and has treated the com­mu­nity with an un­par­al­leled level of dis­dain, dis­re­spect and re­cal­ci­trance that can only be re­dressed through a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Cr Fisher said Red Hill would come to the end of its land­fill ca­pac­ity even­tu­ally and there needed to be a longterm waste so­lu­tion.

“The six lo­cal gov­ern­ments will likely get a bet­ter out­come if re­sources and in­ter­ests are pooled to find an ac­cept­able long-term so­lu­tion for all,” she said.

“Over the past decade many mod­els have been as­sessed by the EMRC and in com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion.

“This model re­quires no cap­i­tal in­vest­ment by any of the lo­cal gov­ern­ments.”

Pic­ture: Bruce Hunt­mu­ni­ d474922

Jane Brem­mer out­side the Red Hill Waste Man­age­ment Fa­cil­ity..


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