Labor succeeds for Western Sydney: Inquiry to begin into the impact of the proposed Eastern Creek incinerator & ‘energy from waste’

In Parliament | 06.04.17

Labor has today succeeded in initiating an upper house parliamentary inquiry into waste disposal in NSW, particularly ‘energy from waste’ technology such as the proposed incinerator at Eastern Creek. 

Labor MPs and councillors from across Western Sydney have been loudly demanding a thorough examination of the evidence base and practices involved in the ‘energy from waste’ industry – and Labor has now delivered on this much-needed inquiry that can carry out a rigorous investigation into this new industry. 

The proposed Eastern Creek incinerator will potentially burn more than one million tonnes of waste a year to power electricity generators - raising a long list of concerns from local residents - including that emissions, potentially harmful to human health and the environment, will be released from the facility which is close to homes and schools. 

In addition, the Government’s own agencies, the Department of Health and the Environment Protection Authority do not support the current proposal. 

Labor’s push for an inquiry received support from the Christian Democratic Party and The Greens, which forced the Berejiklian Government to concede. 

The inquiry will begin immediately, with submissions open until 28 May 2017. Details will be available shortly on the Parliament website: 

Terms of reference for the inquiry: 

That Portfolio Committee No.6 inquire into and report on matters relating to the waste disposal industry in New South Wales, with particular reference to ‘energy from waste’ technology, and in particular:

a) the current provision of waste disposal and recycling, the impact of waste levies and the capacity (considering issues of location, scale, technology and environmental health) to address the ongoing disposal needs for commercial, industrial, household and hazardous waste;

b) the role of ‘energy from waste’ technology in addressing waste disposal needs and the resulting impact on the future of the recycling industry;

c) current regulatory standards, guidelines and policy statements oversighting ‘energy from waste’ technology, including reference to regulations covering:

i. the European Union

ii. United States of America

iii. international best practice;

d) additional factors which need to be taken into account within regulatory and other processes for approval and operation of ‘energy from waste’ plants;

e) the responsibility given to state and local government authorities in the environmental monitoring of ‘energy from waste’ facilities;

f) opportunities to incorporate future advances in technology into any operating ‘energy from waste’ facility;

g) the risks of future monopolisation in markets for waste disposal and the potential to enable a ‘circular economy’ model for the waste disposal industry; and

h) any other related matter. 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe 

“Labor promised that we would push hard for this inquiry on behalf of residents in Western Sydney, and today Labor delivered. 

“After much negotiation, we can now begin to do the examination into this industry that the Government should have done before it got this far. 

“We know the proposed incinerator would be the largest in Australia, so it is only right that the Parliament takes a microscope to a project that would be a first in New South Wales.

“I urge all interested community members and others in the waste industry to take this opportunity and write a submission to the inquiry committee. 

“I want to thank particularly Paul Green MLC as Chair of the committee with cross-bench support from Jeremy Buckingham MLC for agreeing to undertake this important inquiry.”