8 October 2021

Yass Valley Council adopts draft dumping policy, but could review it after election

| Sally Hopman
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Dumped building waste

Yass Valley residents fear ACT building construction waste may be dumped across the border. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Yass Valley Council has agreed to adopt a draft landfill policy for the region despite opposition from the community, but has asked the next council – following the election on 4 December, 2021 – to review the policy.

Prior to its meeting in September when it adopted the policy, council had received 12 submissions opposing its landfill policy, including two from associations.

One of the residents against the landfill policy, Jodie Newall, from Hall, voiced her opposition to council, and to Region Media, saying ACT construction waste has been dumped on surrounding Yass Valley properties, creating an enormous burden on Yass residents and ratepayers, sparking safety issues, and having a devastating impact on the environment and infrastructure.

“In response to the complaints, Yass Valley Council made much noise that they were reviewing their filling policy and procuring compliance officers,” said Ms Newall.

“However, there’s no point getting officers to enforce a policy that is incomplete, ineffective and will simply perpetuate the status quo.”

Ms Newall said when council displayed the current iteration of the draft policy earlier in 2021, it received 12 submissions, including two from residents’ associations that represent many more members.

She accused council of ignoring the submissions by recommending the policy be accepted.

Yass Valley Council Mayor Rowena Abbey said council reviewed the information in the submissions and took them into consideration as part of the decision to implement the policy.

READ ALSO Canberra construction companies plan to make Yass Valley their dumping ground

Council also moved to hire a compliance officer who will start work in Yass in the next few weeks, closely monitoring filling activities in the local government area.

When asked if the decision to adopt the policy was a stopgap measure by council in view of the local government elections scheduled for 4 December, Mayor Abbey said, “The decision was to implement the policy so council staff could ensure we have consistencies across the Yass Valley in regard to filling, remediation, works and dumping issues.

“This allows approved activity to take place and the new council to have time to understand and review again if necessary.

“A new council will look at all the policies of council over time, and as this council has done, review them and amend them as needed.”

Some critics of the policy say it creates confusion in the community and not everyone knows what it means.

“The acceptance of the policy means that anyone intending to undertake filling is to refer to it,” said Yass Valley Council’s director of planning and infrastructure, Julie Rogers.

“The policy provides information about where and when development consent is required, what information needs to be submitted with council for a development application, and the types of conditions that may be applied if development consent is granted.”

Ms Rogers said the submissions received by council covered a wide range of issues, not just the draft filling policy.

“They [the submissions] did touch on the need for the ACT Government to work with local government to address the problem,” she said.

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