Council urges State to move quickly on environmental regulator review recommendations

An independent review into the State Government’s environmental regulator has made 18 recommendations for changes to the Environmental Protection Act 1994, following years of Ipswich residents enduring impacts from waste operators.

Growth, Infrastructure and Waste Committee Chair Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said the independent review was prompted after Ipswich residents lodged tens of thousands of complaints with the environmental regulator.

“Since July 2019, there have been almost 21,000 complaints from our community. The most frequently complained about issue is odour,” Mayor Harding said.

“This situation escalated following the 2022 floods when a significant body of water collected in a waste cell at Cleanaway, New Chum, resulting in an intense odour blanketing several Ipswich suburbs.

“At the time, I successfully moved a Mayoral Minute calling for Queensland Health to launch a Public Health Enquiry into the odour event. While this was initially rejected by the State, I am reassured to see the health and human impacts of waste odours at the forefront of the review’s recommendations.

“Ipswich City Council and the community have long pushed for greater oversight and action around the impacts of private waste operators on our residents and the environment. It is good to finally see recommendations from this important review finally coming forward.

“Council is now considering the impacts of the 18 recommendations, which have all been accepted by the State Government for implementation.

“What we would like to see now is this resulting in stronger and swifter regulatory action from the State in the future.”

New Chum Waste Disposal Facility

Cleanaway’s New Chum site, an engineered landfill, is located within a zoned industrial precinct on the site of a former coal mine and has been operating since 1998.

New Chum receives about 200,000 tonnes of waste from the Ipswich community and further afield each year. It includes construction waste, dry commercial waste and soils. The site is also licensed to accept limited regulated waste, including asbestos.

Landfill gas is currently being extracted from the landfill, largely methane resulting from decomposition of waste, for burning using a flare.

The review concluded that the legislation generally has an adequate range of powers and penalties to enforce environmental obligations and reduce the risk of environmental harm, however powers could be improved for some issues.

The State Government is progressing some of these proposed recommendations while others will undergo stakeholder consultation, regulatory impact assessment and the development of detailed proposals.

Growth, Infrastructure and Waste Deputy Chairperson Councillor Paul Tully said the recommendations couldn’t come fast enough for Ipswich residents still enduring the smell and impact from waste operations in the region.

“It’s important these recommendations are enacted promptly,” Cr Tully said.

“Council will continue to lobby for tough action to protect residents from harm from these noxious odours and will closely follow the implementation of this review.”

Read also:

>> Residents put first in Budget for challenging times

>> Rapid growth requires rapid investment in Ipswich

>> Urgent State Government inquiry into Ipswich waste odours needed

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