Stern warning to municipalities over landfill site
Western Cape Minister of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Anton Bredell has issued a stern warning to leaders of local municipalities in Eden that have been vociferous in the media recently about the massive cost of a new regional landfill site they say they cannot afford.
A new regional site must be established within the next 14 months, as the current PetroSA site has almost reached the end of its lifetime. At a recent meeting the George Council discussed a motion to apply for aid from the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning towards the establishment of the new site, which will demand an annual R31-million contribution from the municipality. There will be a shortfall of R17-million for the 2018/19 book year.
In a strongly worded statement issued on Monday 24 July, Bredell said, "Efficiently run municipalities remain key to delivering the services needed to make the province a better place for all who live in it. The establishment of this site is vital to address waste management and environmental concerns related to waste disposal in the Eden district and I know our municipal leaders are fully aware of this fact. Given the urgency of this project that is currently at a critical stage, the department and I will not hesitate to act if local authorities do not cooperate and comply with their constitutional mandate in this regard. Leaders stand for public office because they are willing to also make the difficult decisions that benefit their communities in the long run."
Bredell said it would be "environmentally disastrous" for the municipalities of Bitou, Knysna, George and Mossel Bay if the site is not established. The affected municipalities have been consulted by Eden District Municipality in a consultative process since 2007 and the department has "repeatedly" warned them that there would be an increase in the cost of waste management and that they should invest in the establishment of infrastructure to recover waste material and minimise waste. "Very few of the affected municipalities prioritised the establishment of the waste management infrastructure."
National standards too expensive
Bredell admitted, though, that new national norms and standards for landfills adopted in 2013 "impacted negatively" on the cost of the establishment of the new regional site. "My department and I are working closely with the National Department of Environmental Affairs to review the latest norms and standards for landfill sites in the hope of making it more affordable for municipalities to establish waste disposal facilities."
Efficiently run municipalities remain key to delivering the services needed to make the province a better place for all who live in it.
In response to Bredell's statement, George Municipal Manager Trevor Botha said,
"The George Municipality is confident that Minister Bredell will be able to engage the relevant national departments to assist municipalities with matters surrounding affordability, especially regarding initial costs towards the establishment of the new site, which is not related to the tonnage of waste generated. The municipality is investigating all avenues to ensure that our contribution to the regional landfill site is more affordable and we are trying to ensure our ratepayers are spared significant refuse tariff increases. We reiterate that the municipality is not against the landfill facility, recognises its necessity, and continues to place as many as possible waste minimalisation measures in place to reduce overall cost."
Last week George Herald journalist
Michelle Pienaar reported on Botha's stance, namely that the affected municipalities are concerned that matters such as waste reduction efforts, consultant fees, asset procurement, operational costs and time frames "have not been addressed satisfactorily". Some "unspecified" costs could have been avoided or addressed differently to reduce municipal contributions.
Eden Municipality has not responded to a request for comment.