JULY 13: UPDATE OF REPORT BELOW.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Alice landfill (in the centre of the photo) to be upgraded at a cost of $5m will provide a facility for all Territory communities south of Tennant Creek to dispose of their rubbish – including household garbage – in an “environmentally friendly” fashion and in “strict compliance” with the requirements of the Territory’s Environmental Protection Authority.
So says the town council’s Director Technical Services Greg Buxton.
He says tips in most remote communities do not have lined landfills which prevent leaching of pollutants into the soils.
The “regional” landfill in Alice Springs will fully address these communities’ needs.
He concedes there will be major transport issues which will be considered by the shires and the NT Government.
In Central Australia only Alice Springs and Yulara have licensed landfills.
Landfills in communities with populations of less than 1000 people are not required to be licensed, but their tips need to comply with the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act and other regulations (see, for example, the Central Desert Shire’s Waste Management Strategy).
The Alice Springs News Online has asked the two shires in The Centre whether all their tips are in compliance, and we will publish their replies as soon as they are available.
Mr Buxton says the upgrading of the tip will mostly bring up to speed that part of the landfill which is used by the population of Alice Springs.
He says, for example, the weighbridge is nearly 30 years old and “stuggles to comply with Commonwealth weight and measures legislation”.
The council is hoping to obtain at no cost land to the west of the present site from Power and Water, which also owns the sewage ponds adjacent to the tip.
The ponds land is freehold and not encumbered by native title, but the land the council has its eye on would require an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the native title body Lhere Artepe.
Mr Buxton says the existing landfill will be adequate for another 15 to 18 years, after which the dump will need to be moved or further expanded to the west. That will extend its service for 50 years.
About moving the facility away from its present site – avoiding the visual and other pollution so close to town – Mr Buxton says: “Find me 50 acres somewhere else, at no cost to the ratepayers.”
REPORT POSTED JULY 11:
The Alice Springs landfill is set to become the repository of all household garbage in the southern part of the NT, south of Tennant Creek.
The Alice Town Council is about to call tenders for the expansion of the tip to fulfill a “regional” role, subject to final discussions with the NT Government about stage two of the project.
The council’s Director Technical Services Greg Buxton says this would put an end to the current situation where the only licensed landfill in the region is Alice Springs, and all other communities are dumping rubbish illegally.
The rubbish would be carted to Alice Springs from the bush communities – but this is also something yet to be negotiated with the NT Government and the shires.
Mr Buxton says the council is looking to acquire from Power and Water land west of the present tip.
This would mean the landfill would extend about two kilometers from the highway, but not further west than the sewage ponds.
Mr Buxton says the volume of the garbage would only increase by about 20%: Alice Springs has a population of some 30,000 and there are about 6000 people in the region.
Mayor Damien Ryan says the project – announced with fanfare last year – will be using $3.5m in Federal money from Regional Development Australia (RDA), and $775,000 from the NT Government.
The RDA round one funding was $150m which was divvied up between 34 projects around Australia. Mr Ryan is the chairman of RDA NT.
He says there will be major changes to the landfill for local users, better opportunities for recycling and a save and salvage store.
“The public won’t need to go to the tip face any more,” he says.
Mr Ryan says the rules for the current RDA round two have been changed, requiring that at least half the costs for each project are covered by funds not coming from Canberra, such as state or local governments or private contributors.
It is expected that Federal Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean will this week announce Territory projects for round two.
Three have been put forward, this time none from Central Australia.
UPDATE July 12, 2012:
Minister Crean this morning announced funding of $7.5m for the Michael Long Leadership & Training Centre in Darwin. RDANT has now had three successful projects worth $14.25m over the two funding round, says Mr Ryan.
UPDATE July 14, 2012:
We asked Diane Hood, CEO of the MacDonnell Shire, for a comment. She provided the following statement:-
“Our tips are all for less than 1000 population and as such do not need to be licensed (or meet the conditions attached to licensing).
“That said, we do adhere to the requirements in the Regional Management Plan / Local Government Act.
“MacDonnell Shire Council also has documented Waste Management Guidelines which have been derived from the Waste Management Guidelines for Small Communities in the NT, developed by the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory (LGANT) in 2009.
“The information included in the guidelines focuses on improving the delivery of waste management services for all communities in the Shire, for example reducing the hazards associated with waste in small communities and working towards improved environmental management of waste.
“We are continuing to work with other councils, LGANT and government agencies to develop more strategic plans to guide the future direction of waste management in Central Australia.
“The current draft Regional Management Plan has a goal to jointly identify areas of waste management that cost, compliance and effectiveness can be improved through a regional waste management action plan.
“However this has not yet been discussed in any detail nor have the areas been identified at this time.
“We understand that Mr Buxton’s comments relate to a possible outcome of the regional management plan.
“As such, no budget has been assigned for this purpose as it will form part of future discussions. We look forward to discussing relevant areas for regional improvement and identifying where cost, compliance and effectiveness can be improved.”
UPDATE JULY 16:
Councillor Steve Brown says the landfill should be moved now, with just a transfer station, where people can drop off their rubbish, remaining in the present location.
Cr Brown says it is “disgraceful and short-sighted” to have the landfill and the sewage treatment works – which should also be relocated – at the iconic entrance to the town.
“This is prime real estate for hotels and other facilities for visitors,” he says.
“The Ilparpa Valley and the southern flank of the MacDonnell Ranges are among our greatest assets.”
Cr Brown, who gained the highest number of votes in the recent elections, says he will spend a great deal of effort during his term on the council pushing for the relocation.
He says for years the government had refused to move the power station from the middle of the town to Brewer Estate, but in the end it “had to be done”.
With the development of Kigariff the Blatherskite Park area will be much closer to the center of the town, he says.
Meanwhile Roydon Robertson, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Desert Shire, said when asked for a comment: “I don’t know anything about this story. I doubt its accuracy.”