Moving the dump will be discussed by council …

… but will the public get to hear about it?

 

 

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Councillor Steve Brown has taken the first step to get discussion on the table of an alternative to future expansion of the landfill west into the beautiful Ilparpa Valley.

 

He raised the issue as “other business” at last night’s Town Council Technical Services committee meeting, which he chaired. He said the land west of the dump, adjoining the Wildlife Park, was much too valuable as a potential tourist area to be used for waste disposal. He wanted to see a report from officers on the alternatives.

 

Mayor Damien Ryan was the first to pour cold water on the idea, pointing out that the landfill is a registered asbestos disposal site and as such the adjacent land is unlikely to be seen as attractive by tourists.

 

Greg Buxton, Director of Technical Services, said land comparable to what has been offered to council free of charge would cost $12-14m to purchase. A location like the Brewer Industrial Estate would also involve the cost of transporting waste. As well, alternatives would be subject to an Indigenous Land Use Agreement, so there would be no gain there.

 

Cr Brown said he had been led to believe that there were “numerous” other parcels of land available, for instance owned by the NT Government. He wanted council to look forwards, to the eventual removal of the sewerage ponds and installation of water treatment works, when that part of the valley would be rehabilitated.

 

Mr Buxton said he was happy to review current direction but the government had made no other suggestions about available land when it made the offer of the “paperbark swamp” block west of the landfill’s present site.

 

Cr Eli Melky said whoever made the original decision to site the landfill where it is was wrong. He also understood that the current dump has a limited life, so sooner or later council will have to look for alternative. He would hate to be seen as having made a bad decision 70 years hence when the land to the west had also been contaminated. He was 100% behind Cr Brown.

 

CEO Rex Mooney said local government areas across the country face the same predicament: the land in the best strategic locations, with the best views is always occupied by waste facilities and cemeteries.

 

Everyone laughed.

 

At this stage Cr Brown asked for a show of hands but was only supported by Cr Melky.

 

Mayor Ryan said he had would have difficulty looking for somewhere else given that council had just invested $4.5m in the current site. Cr Brown interrupted: he wasn’t talking about shifting the transfer station. He just didn’t want council to commit themselves to another 50 years of dumping in that location.

 

Mayor Ryan wanted to know more about the alternatives Cr Brown was aware of. Cr Brown was hesitant, not wanting to name names in the Chamber, but he mentioned land available alongside the Brewer Estate and various spots on pastoral leases.

 

Was he talking about a 60km round trip from the CBD, Mayor Ryan wanted to know.

 

No, a 20 km round trip, he replied.

 

It was easy to object to Cr Brown’s proposal unless you were looking to what Alice Springs will be like in the future, commented Cr Melky.

 

Deputy Mayor Liz Martin agreed the land in Ilparpa Valley is “absolutely valuable” and “a wasted resource for our town” but wanted any report to focus on a specific alternative location, with detail on costs. She was supported by Crs Jade Kudrenko, Brendan Heenan, Dave Douglas and Chansey Paech.

 

Cr Paech said a report should also look at the environmental and occupational health and safety aspects of the land Cr Brown wants to protect, in that it is next door to the landfill.

 

It was looking like Cr Brown was going to get his report.

 

Mayor Ryan now suggested that such a report, comparing land for land, may have to be considered in a confidential meeting.

 

Cr Paech didn’t like the sound of this: if the owners gave their consent, the report should remain in open, he said. Cr Melky agreed: even if parts of the report needed to stay in confidential, the rest should be discussed in open.

 

The question of a motion to frame Cr Brown’s request was raised. Mayor Ryan didn’t think a motion was required. He said the meeting had made it very clear what they wanted; the director just needed to bring them the report “in confidential” telling the where that “piece of dirt” is.

 

Cr Melky still thought the “commitment” of a motion was a good idea, but Cr Brown asked for a show of hands. Cr Kudrenko said she would support the report only if it was as the Mayor had put it, able to tell councillors where the alternative land is.

 

Cr Brown did not take it further.

 

So time will tell what kind of a report he gets and whether or not the public will have access to it.

Be Sociable, Share!

One Comment (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Steve Brown
    Posted September 24, 2013 at 7:11 am

    A responsible Council should not just be looking at the here and now.
    It must have a vision of the town’s long term development firmly fixed in its sights.
    It is irresponsible to make decisions leaving the status quo simply because it’s easy, convenient and cheap to do so.
    Anyone looking at a plan of Alice Springs and taking into account its proposed growth over coming years would have to be short sighted indeed not to recognise that the area around Blatherskite Park and our present waste disposal site is set to become the Town’s Centre.
    As Kilgariff begins to grow, central to existing facilities and the new subdivision, it is an ideal location for the growth of our sporting and tourist facilities.
    In short it is an extraordinarily important and valuable piece of real estate that is a vital part of future Alice.
    The area is almost unbelievably given over to sewage and rubbish disposal right alongside our town’s front door, often giving our visitors a waft of sewage and a view of blowing paper rubbish as a welcome to our town.
    It is ugly and completely inappropriate! Both sewage and waste dumping facilities need to be gone!
    I am well aware that this will be a very expensive process but it is never going to get cheaper and all the while the imperative is growing.
    I would like our community to grasp the necessity for this move, and for the move to be put into the planning process so that we can begin a step by step process that eventually achieves the relocation.
    I am not proposing that the new Transfer Station be moved as long as it is kept neat and tidy. We can live with it as do many other towns and cities that have centrally located Transfer Facilities from which garbage that can’t be recycled is then trucked to a waste dumping area well away from the city proper.
    This would need to be within an economical distance as far as transport cost are concerned.
    Despite reports to the contrary, there are plenty of sites available that could be developed into a modern appropriately managed waste dumping facility.
    In fact the relocation would present an ideal opportunity to establish a facility that meets current best environmental practice with all the checks and balances in place to see us through the next 50 years.
    What I am asking from Council at this time is that we put a hold on any further land acquisition for the purpose of further expanding waste disposal in this area.
    At the same time we should begin a process of investigating, firstly, what the requirements for a modern waste disposal facility are.
    When we are in possession of those requirements we can set about finding a site for the facility that will serve the community for at least the next 50 years.
    With a view to the future of the Blatherskite area it is worth noting that declared intentions of further developing Sewage Recycling should eventually see much of the requirement for retention ponding removed from this area, which in turn should lead to the eventual freeing up of much of this area for future development. I consider this vital to our town’s growth. I hope the Council will also see its way clear to doing its bit for this area.

    View Comment

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*