Opposition to the proposed waste-to-energy facility at Tarago received a powerful showing of support late on Tuesday night (9 November), when Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman voiced opposition to her Government’s proposal during a speech in Parliament.
The $600 million Advanced Energy Recovery Centre will be operated by Veolia, which already operates the nearby Woodlawn Bioreactor. The two projects would be the centrepiece of Veolia’s 6000-hectare “Woodlawn Eco Precinct” site.
Ms Tuckerman said that it was comments made in the NSW Chief Scientist’s report that confirmed her opposition to the project, particularly regarding the need for avoiding close proximity to food production, with the precinct surrounded by “fertile agricultural land, producing grain and livestock”.
“I stand with you in objecting to this waste-to-energy project,” she said.
“I will never support any project that cannot guarantee the health and safety of my community or the environment.”
In recent times, the Goulburn Mulwaree and Yass Valley Council’s have spoken against the project, both concerned with Veolia’s historical failings to correct odour issues with their facility over the last decade.
“It is no secret that the current waste facility at Veolia Tarago has had an odour issue, causing much stress and anxiety for neighbouring residents,” said Ms Tuckerman.
“Based on the many odour complaints from my office and the non-compliance, I can understand the community’s hesitancy in supporting Veolia on this project, particularly when the monitoring and compliance if approved, will be crucial to ensure the health and wellbeing of the community and environment,” she said.
Ms Tuckerman explained that with the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARS) already issued, they cannot be legally withdrawn as the project is in a permissible area. However, she assured the community of a “robust planning process” that must be satisfied before the development of the facility could commence.
“To the community of Tarago, I want to reassure you that I’m hearing your concerns loud and clear and I will be with you throughout this process,” said Ms Tuckerman.
“The community are asking a lot of questions that I am also seeking answers to.”
“I want to assure the Tarago community that although the policy update identifies the Veolia Precinct as a permissible zone, there is still significant planning framework that must be satisfied,” she said.
Spokesperson for the Communities Against the Tarago Incinerator Inc, Paige Davis said Ms Tuckerman had been “backed into a corner” after months of pestering from the community. She commented on the 11:48 pm start time of Ms Tuckerman’s speech and wondered if that time had been selected strategically.
“The fact is, she did it. Small baby steps,” said Ms Davis.
“We are pleased that she did it, it is a step in the right direction. Now we look forward to Wendy Tuckerman enthusiastically speaking to senior members of her party on our behalf, to have this project stopped,” she said.
For the group, attention now shifts to getting a response from their Federal Member for Hume, Angus Taylor. Ms Davis said it was time Mr Taylor supported his community despite acknowledging the project is not coming from a federal level.
“He’s passed the buck consistently when anyone has written to him and he’s refused to meet with any local members of the community,” she said.
“He is our elected official – one would suggest he is meant to act for us. We are yet to see that.”