Government’s refusal to clarify landfill guidelines ‘disappointing’ – Greens

Greens Biodiversity Spokesperson Lynn MacLaren MLC says it is disappointing that the Barnett Government has turned down a Greens’ suggestion to clarify its landfill guidelines so that unsuitable sites too close to vulnerable native fauna are screened out earlier on.
“While the cancellation late last year of plans to build a putrescible landfill site 6 kilometres from Dryandra Woodland Reserve was ultimately good for WA’s vulnerable native fauna, the Greens are concerned that the proponent shires didn’t receive clear government advice early on about the problem with that site,” Ms MacLaren said.
“If the Great Southern Regional Waste Group had received this advice earlier, they would have saved themselves and their communities much time, money and heartache by eliminating that site early on.
“This week I asked the Government whether it would adopt clearer guidelines in WA on the siting and management of landfills in relation to feral predator and scavenger species – however, I was disappointed to find that the Environment Minister has no intention to do so because he feels current environmental assessment and licensing processes for landfills are adequate.
“I beg to differ with the Minister: currently in WA, landfill proponents are referred by the WA Department of Environmental Regulation to sections of the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority’s ‘Best Practice Environmental Management’ landfill guidelines.
“These BPEM guidelines warn the landfills should not be sited near sensitive fauna populations because landfills create new habitats for scavenger and predatory species.
“However, although the DER refers proponents to the BPEM guidelines, DER’s own functions are limited to regulating risk to public health and environment arising from emissions and discharges of a development – consequently DER does not bring landfill proponents’ attention to the feral predator issue and it is left up to the Environmental Protection Authority to assess this.
“However, by the time a proposal reaches the EPA, it usually well advanced.
“Furthermore, we all saw the EPA fail to deal with cat-native fauna concern last year when its recommendation that the landfill go ahead without assessment was overturned by the Minister following appeals by the Greens and Numbat Task Force; our appeals were won on the basis that the EPA had inadequately considered the feral cat-native fauna concern.
“It is not fair for proponents to allow them to go a long way down the path of developing a landfill proposal before getting clear direction on whether the site is problematic – DER, which is usually consulted early on by proponents, needs to be able to refer them to suitable site-screening criteria at the outset.
“The Greens call on the Barnett Government to adopt and gazette clear WA-specific guidelines on the siting of landfills in WA.
“Since we are also aware that many existing landfills are inadequately managed in regard to feral predator and scavenger species, we also urge the Government to investigate how it could assist local government and private landfill operators to improve their management.”