The Howlong community will fight the recently approved Howlong Compost Facility development application all the way, according to Howlong Community Committee Chairman Stuart Sizer.
Howlong residents will rally at a community meeting on Monday, September 11 from 7pm at the Howlong Golf Resort where they will discuss their next step, including talks of an appeal in the NSW Land and Environment Court.
The meeting had previously been organised for today (September 6) but the committee wanted to make sure it had all the critical information at its fingertips before informing the community.
The facility is planned to be built just 600 meters from the nearest residents and 1500 metres from the town’s residential areas.
Mr Sizer said news that Cleanaway’s development application had been approved was “extremely devastating” given the enormous amount of work put into the presentations made to the Western Joint Regional Planning Panel.
“The reality is that common sense didn’t prevail, it’s inappropriate, poorly planned and we don’t need it in our town,” he said.
“There are other alternatives and that’s what we are still fighting for.
“What is really disappointing is that the JRPP has ignored those 300 objectors and the 57 individuals who spoke to the JRPP at a public meeting on June 15 this year.
“They expressed very personal issues which included how proud they are of Howlong and why the facility should not be constructed.
“Why would such a facility that will cause odour issues and create traffic problems be allowed?”
Mr Sizer said the community was prepared to go into battle.
“We want to ramp up this fight and we have just had a call from (Farrer MP) Sussan Ley’s office, she is going to send a representative to the meeting and we are trying to get national television coverage,” he said.
The newly elected Federation Council will not be sworn in until late September, which coincides with the 28-day deadline for the Howlong Community Committee to officially decide whether to appeal the JRPP decision in the NSW Land and Environment Court.
JRPP Chairman Gordon Kirkby said the decision to approve the development application was a result of considerable deliberation, community consultation and assessment in line with current planning, policy and strategic plans.
“The panel acknowledges the complexity of the issues and has taken time and care in its deliberations, including a follow-up meeting with the Howlong Community Committee,” he said.
“We’ve read every submission received during the exhibition period and listened to the community’s views during the public meeting.
“We sought additional information on key issues including air quality and health impacts, traffic impacts and the development and growth of Howlong.
“We’re satisfied that all potential impacts can be mitigated.”
Mr Kirkby said in approving the development, the panel sought to strengthen the community consultation requirements by amending the conditions of consent.
“The Community Consultative Committee is required to meet quarterly and include council and community participation,” he said.
“The panel found the development proposal permissible under Clause 121 of State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 and consistent with the Corowa Development Control Plan 2013 and the former Corowa Shire Council 2001-2031 Strategic Land Use Plan with regard to the strategic planning of the township of Howlong.
“The proposed development is also consistent with the NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource
Recovery Strategy 2014-21 to increase recycling rates across all waste streams and increase the proportion of waste diverted from landfill.”
However, Mr Sizer said despite the approval conditions placed on the development application it was bad planning, especially as there were other options including local rural land holders offering sites away from the town.
“Recently, Albury City Council also passed a motion that if this proposal had been denied that they would take control of the organic and green waste composting possibly at the Albury Tip,” he said.
“We should also note that Cleanaway stated to the JRPP that they plan to expand the site in the future, causing even more issues.”
Mr Sizer said the HCC appreciated that Bill Bott, the only panel member who voted against the proposal, supported the Howlong community concerns.
“You can rest assured that the Howlong community will keep fighting to stop this facility being constructed,” he said.