Council calls on State Government to prioritise community health and the environment

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding has called on the State Government to prioritise community health and environmental stewardship ahead of irresponsible waste corporates.

In an open letter to the Minister for Environment and Science Leeanne Enoch, Mayor Harding demanded that the State Government take immediate action after a fire broke out at Cleanaway’s New Chum landfill site yesterday.

Mayor Harding said that a significant number of nearby residents had been affected by the heavy smoke from the New Chum fire and she encouraged them to report the problem to the Queensland Government’s Odour Abatement Taskforce.

“I am profoundly disappointed and disgusted that the people of Ipswich have been put at risk like this. The inability to manage the site safely has caused great anguish and threatened the health and safety of the Ipswich community and endangered the local environment, yet again” she said.

“It is very distressing that we (Ipswich City Council) have virtually no enforcement powers when it comes to site safety and compliance and self-regulation clearly does not work.

“That is why the State Government must take immediate action.”

In her letter to Minister Enoch, Mayor Harding demanded that the State Government launch an investigation immediately into Sunday’s fire and ongoing operations at Cleanaway’s landfill site.

QFRS staff attended the fire Sunday afternoon, which was located in a ‘Resource Recovery Area’, and the fire was allegedly under control that evening.

The site’s ‘Resource Recovery Area’ is a designated area approved by the State Government under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 and was part of the introduction of the waste levy in 2019.

This area – which includes waste to be sorted for potential reuse – is the responsibility of Department of Environment and Science to appropriately regulate to maintain adequate environmental standards and to address the potential impacts of waste on the community.

CEO David Farmer confirmed that council officers were on site (Tuesday, 21 July) to conduct a pre-arranged audit.

Mayor Harding, Deputy Mayor Marnie Doyle and Councillor Andrew Fechner today visited the vicinity of the site.

Cr Doyle said that fumes could be smelled as far away as the Ipswich CBD, however unfortunately there is no legal instrument available to council to sanction Cleanaway or enforce any compliance action.

“This is not a third-world country, this is supposed to be a state that values our natural environment and the wellbeing of our community and yet the State Government’s Department of Environment and Science (DES) has failed to act,” Cr Doyle said.

According to State Government guidelines, normal operation of a landfill (and the site conditions of DES in this instance) require the covering of deposited waste ‘as soon as practicable’. However, this does not apply where there is an RRA.

“The absence of clear guidelines for private operators to adhere to timelines and quantities limitations is unacceptable and grossly irresponsible and the State Government needs to review this as a matter of priority,” she said.

Cr Fechner said there had been considerable feedback from the community and people were concerned about the waste storage process, the smell from the site and practices perceived to be comparative to that of third-world nations.

“The people of Ipswich have simply had enough,” Cr Fechner said.

“We are demanding more than just a cursory glance – we want the State Government to take some serious action and penalise offenders.”

“Corporate waste operators are financially benefiting from the abuse of the system and we want it to end.”

Mayor Harding called on the government to increase costs of non-compliance, including fines, to ensure a sufficient deterrent or remove their operating licences; in a similar way that everyday people lose their licence to drive for repeat offences.

“This is not the first fire on site or at other landfill operations in Ipswich. It is time the government got tough on waste and stopped inflicting major health and environmental problems on our community,” she said.

“I will be writing to the Minister and Cleanaway today to express our significant concerns.”

Mayor Harding highlighted the size, scale and scope of the resource recovery area activities and the potential for fires to occur again. She said the area is not consistent with the provisions of the act in that there is a substantial volume of waste being stored on this site, and:

· It is unclear if this RRA will continue to grow in size;

· It is not apparent if this waste is subject to the provisions of the relevant environmental authorities which govern the balance of the operation;

· It is unclear how the state expect to manage this issue, other than through self-regulation;

· It is not apparent how the proposed RRA is to be regulated and reported on with accuracy given the potential for waste to be ‘mingled’ on site, or the potential for waste to be removed from existing landfill cells – effectively reducing the amount of levy paid to the government.


The Odour Abatement Taskforce is a State Government team of specialist officers working to investigate and respond to concerns raised by the community about odours, dust and other environmental nuisance in and around Swanbank.

The taskforce was set up two years ago and has investigated more than 5,200 complaints from residents in that period.

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One Comment

  1. You as mayor and your councilors presumably know that you have no justification with regards to these dumps. Ms Harding you and your council must put extreme pressure on the state government. Start with our local State members . Put together your demands and keep pressuring until The Premier and Enoch meet with you and thrash things out Also $65 Million should put the frighteners on Cleanaway. Invite me along to meeting with Enoch I have been requesting an interview for 2 years. As a constituent I am entitled

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