Plans for an energy-from-waste facility proposed for Sydney’s west have been rejected, with concern for health and the environment being a major factor.

The Next Generation (NSW) Pty Ltd sought approval to build and operate the large 24/7 facility at Eastern Creek – combusting 552,500 tonnes of the city’s non-recyclable waste every year and generating enough electricity for 100,000 homes.

The development application was referred to the Commission for determination in April after the Department of Planning and Environment received 949 public objections. Blacktown and Penrith City Councils also expressed their opposition.

Chair of the Independent Planning Commission, Professor Mary O’Kane AC, appointed a three-member panel to decide the matter, including Ms Robyn Kruk AO (Chair), Mr Peter Duncan AM and Mr Tony Pearson.

The Commissioners met with the applicant, inspected the site and surrounding areas, and spoke with representatives from the department and both councils.

They also held a public meeting at Rooty Hill to listen to the community’s concerns about the project, which centred around human health impacts, the size and scale of the facility, the suitability of the site and a lack of community consultation.

Having examined all the evidence and taken the community’s views into consideration, the commission decided to refuse consent for the development application.

In summary, the Commission’s Statement of Reasons for Decision dated 19 July found:

  • The applicant’s predicted modelling was based on data that is not representative of the actual waste streams proposed to be treated at the energy-from-waste facility
  • There is insufficient evidence that the pollution control technologies are capable of appropriately managing emissions from the project and would be agnostic to the composition of the project’s waste stream
  • There is uncertainty in relation to the air quality, and the relationship between air quality impacts and water quality impacts in the locality
  • As a result, there is uncertainty in relation to the human health risks and site suitability
  • It is not satisfied that the project is consistent with certain objects of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
  • The project is not in the public interest

“The Commission finds that the key issue in its consideration of the project is the uncertainty around the project’s emissions and the results of the applicant’s predicted modelling. Given this uncertainty, the Commission finds that it is unable to determine the project’s impacts on the locality and has persuaded the Commission to adopt a precautionary approach to the consideration and determination of the project’s impacts on air quality and human health,” the commission said in its Statement of Reasons.

“The Commission finds that, while there are benefits to the public from the project, there is sufficient uncertainty around the project’s impacts on air quality, water quality and human health that mean that the project is not in the public interest.”

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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