Plan put on backburner

AN eleventh-hour notice given to councils to meet State Government requirements has Banana Shire Council in a pickle.

The council, after seeking advice from the Department of Environment Resources Management (DERM), has scrapped a four-year plan to upgrade waste and recycling facilities across the shire that it adopted at last month’s meeting.

Council was now looking at borrowing about $5 million to get those upgrades done by a deadline which was only 11 months away.

The State Government’s draft new State Waste Strategy and Levy was only seen by council staff when they arrived at a meeting in Rockhampton hosted by DERM in the past few weeks.

Councils have until July 31 to make submissions to the proposed strategy and levy.

The new levies would see charges on commercial, industrial and demolish material for the first time, to be collected by the State Government and put in to a kitty of which $100 million will be made available to councils over a three-year period to improve waste infrastructure.

Council’s Fleet and Waste Services manager Greg Curtis told Wednesday’s monthly council meeting that while the State Government was offering the funds to pay for infrastructure upgrades, there wouldn’t be much money until the government started collecting levies.

“It was made very clear to us if we haven’t got our ducks in a row by July 2011 (deadline and effectiveness of new levy), not to worry about it, just send them down the check for the levy,” he said.

In a report tabled at council, it stated that as part of the new levy, stockpiles of waste at transfer stations, such as scrap metal and green waste, will be considered to be disposed of and therefore attract a levy if they remained stockpiled in the same place for over 12 months.

This has implication for all Banana Shire sites as many unsupervised sites have led to poor separation of stockpiles.

The report showed a table of waste stream tonnages at Trap Gully during the 2009/10 financial year and what it would amount to with the levy charges. The total amount was $167,084 for the one site.

Council’s four-year $5.65 million plan, which has now been scrapped, would have given council a clear direction for upgrading, developing new sites, closing some landfills and spreading the cost over four years.

Landfills at Theodore, Taroom, Banana, Baralaba and Moura would be closed to the public and undergo rehabilitation under the plan.

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