Community discontent over a proposed $8 million composting facility near Howlong prompted Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose to meet with disgruntled Corowa and Howlong residents on Tuesday.
Mr Primrose lashed out at the Federal Government and Local Member Greg Aplin when he spoke at a special press conference in front of the Corowa Civic Centre saying “the future and any decisions in regards to the proposal should be made by a democratically elected council”.
“I have received several emails, letters and phone calls over the last couple of months from the people of this region that are deeply concerned with the process of the composting proposal and the amalgamation process,” he said.
“This amalgamation process has been mismanaged at every turn by the NSW Liberal and National Government.
“Now the people of Howlong are looking at a major project being approved against their wishes, which was rejected when proposed for Table Top, without any democratic representation into that decision making whatsoever.”
Mr Primrose was critical of the role played by Liberal Member Greg Aplin in the process.
“Mr Aplin has shed crocodile tears over these amalgamations saying that he supported the people in Tumbarumba who opposed the forced merger of that shire with Tumut,” he said.
“Yet he fronted up to Parliament in Macquarie Street and voted for it.
“He has not lifted a finger to address the concerns of Howlong Residents, residents who now face having a composting facility that has been deemed unsuitable for open land at Table Top, forcibly located within their town.
“Mr Aplin's Government has turned this entire process into a dog’s breakfast.”
Mr Primrose said he believed the decision regarding the compost facility should be left for a democratically elected council, not an administrator that has been appointed by the state government.
“I will be taking back as much information as I can from my meetings with residents and taking their concerns to parliament,” he said.
“There is no reason at all that this project cannot wait until the new council is elected in September this year.”
Local Member Greg Aplin defended his involvement in relation to the Howlong Compost issue.
“Unfortunately there are some people involved in this that have wanted to politicise the process for some time,” Mr Aplin said.
“I supported the investigation into the April 2016 Corowa Shire Council Meeting minutes after allegations were made that they were changed.
“The investigation has been finalised and I support those findings and now I remain committed, like I always have, to keep residents updated on the due process that we must follow.”
Mr Aplin said he encouraged residents to ensure they had all the facts on the project before making their final decision.
“The proposal is currently awaiting its decision from the Joint Regional Planning Panel and I encourage residents to let the process take its course,” he said.
“I have met regularly with residents and listened to their concerns, as well as had regular discussions with all parties involved, including the EPA who I know have requested more information from Cleanaway.”
Earmarked for a site near the Howlong Landfill and Sewerage Treatment Plant, Cleanaway which operates the organics collection service on behalf of Federation Council, Albury City, Wodonga City Council and Indigo Shire, submitted a Development Application to Federation Council in November last year.
The proposal has continued to receive a hostile response with many Howlong residents making their thoughts clear at public meetings discussing the proposed facility.
In response to the proposal, the Howlong Community Committee was formed, which to date has raised $30,000 to fight the development.
Odour management, water management and traffic issues have been touted by the committee as the three core reasons behind community concern.