Environment Tasmania believes that once again the failure to adequately inform the community of a proposed contentious issue has fuelled the community’s concern that all is not what it seems.
Environment Tasmania today called on Southern Waste Solutions and its local government owners to disclose why they felt it necessary to keep the local community in the dark about the proposed toxic waste dump.
“Often proponents of contentious developments wonder why they run into community outrage, this case is a prime example of what happens when you fail to engage the Tasmanian community openly” said Peter Skillern Chief Executive Officer of Environment Tasmania.
“The merits and risks of this project are shrouded in a fog of misinformation and a failure to consult with relevant stakeholders. When will proponents of such projects realise that much of the heartache could be avoided if there was open and honest dialogue with the community” he said.
Environment Tasmania is committed to a Tasmanian environment free of toxic materials and one in which local communities and stakeholders are engaged in such proposals from the inception.
• IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR FURTHER CONSULTATION OVER COPPING
Tim Morris MP
Local Government Spokesperson
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
The Tasmanian Greens today called for a fresh public consultation process over plans to site a toxic waste facility at Copping.
Greens Local Government spokesperson Tim Morris MP said that given community concerns over the low level of publicity around the original process, the Environment Protection Authority and or the Sorell Council should consider holding another round of consultation to allow those who missed out last time to have their say.
“I put the simple question to the Minister, Brian Wightman, whether he will ask the EPA to convene another round of public consultations as clearly many people are now only becoming aware of the proposal,” Mr Morris said.
“In hindsight it is obvious that there should have been a greater level of advertising to alert residents that there was a proposal for a high level waste facility about to be assessed and that there was an opportunity for public input; however it is not too late to have a further opportunity for public input.”
“With all the relevant information now being available on the EPA and the Sorell Council websites, it would be a good time to have further consultation, prior to substantive works commencing onsite.”
“There is a question as to whether this proposal has the required social licence when there are a significant number of community members who are saying they were not aware that the proposal for a ‘c’ cell at the Copping waste facility was out for consultation.”
“The advantage of having another round of consultation now will be that any unassessed issues can be assessed and if changes to, or additional permit conditions are required than they can be efficiently done via the Environment Protection Notice (EPN) process”
“Whilst the Minister for the Environment did not provide a commitment to have the EPA reopen the consultation he did commit to consider the matter.”
• TASMANIA MUST RESIST ASSAULT ON ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS
Paul O’Halloran MP
Greens Member for Braddon
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
The Tasmanian Greens called on the Environment Minister Brian Wightman to strenuously resist the current national push to wind back environmental protection laws, and to oppose moves to devolve environmental assessment work to the states.
In the House of Assembly today, Greens Member for Braddon Paul O’Halloran called on the Minister to stand up on behalf of the millions of Tasmanians and Australians, who love and value the natural environment.
“There is currently action by the Federal Government and some states, under extreme pressure from the mining industry and big business, to devolve federal environmental regulation and assessment to the states,” Mr O’Halloran said.
“Rolling back hard-won environmental protection gains would open the way for devastating and permanent damage to places valued and loved by the community for their natural, environmental and biologically diverse values.”
“The Minister must guarantee that he will not support any reforms that would jeopardise environmental standards and processes or which facilitate the fast-track approval of projects that could cause damage to the natural places loved and valued by the community.”
“The Baillieu government in Victoria is looking to allow cattle grazing in the pristine Alpine National Park, and the Queensland Newman government has committed to overturning the Wild Rivers legislation in Cape York, which protects the Great Barrier Reef from agricultural runoff.”
“As Minister responsible for our threatened species and wild places, the Minister must defend the interests of Tasmanians who love and value the environment and demand its protection.
NOTE: The Greens will be pursuing this issue this afternoon in Private Members Time, seeking a commitment from both other parties for a tripartite Tasmanian position to support national environmental protection laws in the face of the industry push to water them down. The Motion is as follows:
That the House:—
(1) Notes the Federal Government review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Federal Government and Council of Australian Government’s proposal to wind back Federal powers and devolve final authority to the states.
(a) the significance of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in protecting Australia’s fragile environment, the importance of Federal Government oversight and the ability of communities to appeal state decisions to the Federal level; and
(b) that attempts to water down this right of appeal could lead to environmentally damaging projects being fast tracked at a state level without proper process and with no further avenue of appeal.
(3) Calls upon the Federal Government, in the interest of the environment, to strengthen the scope and powers of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 rather than diminish it.
(4) Condemns the misinformation campaign of the mining industry and big business that environment regulations are causing excessive delays and costs to their developments.
(5) Supports ‘The Places You Love’ campaign established by environmental organisations from across the country concerned with the Council of Australian Government’s proposal to wind back our system of environmental laws.
(6) Rejects changes to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
• Community to be informed on science of Copping proposal
Construction will not start on the Category C waste disposal cell proposed for the Copping landfill
site until Southern Waste Solutions has fully informed the community about the sound science
behind the project.
Southern Waste Solutions (SWS) CEO Christine Bell today announced that the organisation would
undertake further discussion with the community, which would include holding public information
sessions, displays, speaking opportunities and one-on-one meetings.
“Given significant public interest in this proposal, we will not start construction of the engineered
cell until we’ve had the opportunity to fully inform the community on the sound scientific and
health aspects of the facility,” Ms Bell said.
“It is clear that many in the local community feel they were not adequately informed and we want
to address this.
“It is important to us that the community understands the importance of this project for
Tasmania’s clean, green image and environmental credentials.
“Tasmania is currently the only state in Australia without such a facility and if we are to hang our
hat on being a ‘clean, green’ state, we all need to take responsibility for the waste we produce.”
Southern Waste Solutions – a joint authority owned by local government – has been operating the
Copping site for over a decade, during which time it has been subject to regular independent
environmental testing standards, which it has always met or exceeded.