Community group, Environment East Gippsland, has settled its legal challenge to the Environment Protection Authority’s approval of Australian Paper’s proposed Maryvale Mill waste incinerator.
“Although we still believe the proposal is a huge step backwards as a solution to deal with domestic and industrial rubbish, we are pleased that the EPA and Australian Paper have agreed to improved conditions on the design and operation of what could be Australia’s largest waste incinerator”, said Jill Redwood from Environment East Gippsland.
EEG agreed to withdraw its appeal after Australian Paper and the EPA agreed to amend the approval to respond to the group’s concerns. New conditions negotiated by EEG include:
- A new condition to make it explicit that the incinerator is only to be used to burn non-hazardous commercial waste.
- Amendments to ensure that the incinerator is designed to allow for ease of upgrades to achieve stricter emission limits in the future.
- Installation of continuous Emission Monitoring of Mercury as soon as that technology is recognised as a Best Available Technique by the European Commission.
- Loads of rubbish will now be required to be diverted out of the incineration stream if they contain ‘more than negligible amounts of recyclable material’, rather than the previous threshold of ‘mainly recyclable material’.
Another new condition incorporated into the EPA Works Approval confirms that Victoria’s native forests or plantations will not be burnt in the Incinerator, with wood waste limited to a maximum of 1% of the feedstock.
“The strengthened conditions should ensure that the community has better access to information about the incinerator’s emissions and should better protect both the community and environment”, said Jill Redwood from Environment East Gippsland.
“The government recently pledged $34 million to strengthen the recycling sector and is currently developing a circular economy action plan, due to be finished by 2020. Yet this incinerator would be in direct competition for the rubbish that should be recycled” said Jill Redwood. “We are hoping that this incinerator will prove unviable as the Victorian community gets behind the more sustainable circular economy which focuses on reducing, reusing and recycling, rather than incineration.”
Environment East Gippsland was represented by lawyers from Environment Justice Australia in the proceedings which were filed late last year.
According to Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Nick Witherow “The settlement shows the importance of community groups scrutinising proposals and taking action to strengthen conditions on projects that can threaten a region’s health and well-being.”