NSW Government facing tough questions on Mangrove Mountain Landfill

In Parliament | 09.05.17

The NSW Labor Opposition has posed a series of questions to the NSW Government about how the Mangrove Mountain landfill was allowed to become the very large and potentially harmful waste dump that it is today. 

With advice and urging from new Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch, Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe put a series of questions to the Minister for Environment, Gabrielle Upton seeking information about a recent environmental review of the site, inquiring into the validity of the licence approvals given to the landfill, and asking what action the Government will take to address the serious concerns of the community. 

The landfill was originally approved for the remodelling of the Mangrove Mountain Golf Course involving an amount of clean fill limited to 80,000m3 – but after multiple licence reviews and variations, there is now approximately 800,000m3 of waste on the site, approximately ten times the original proposal.  

It is estimated that approximately three million litres of leachate is produced annually by the present waste mound, and due to ineffective or non-existent lining there is the possibility of leakage into local groundwater, which forms part of the Central Coast’s drinking water catchment. 

 The questions are provided below in full and must be answered by the Government within 35 days. 

 Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe  

“After many years of concern and community advocacy about the landfill, it is unacceptable that so many questions remain unanswered and it is time for the NSW Government to be open and transparent.  

“The community has had enough and they deserve answers – particularly whether this development as it now stands would ever have been allowed to go ahead in the first place, if not for years of licence reviews and consent variations.  

“With a recent approval to further increase the permitted waste material to 1.3 million cubic metres, it is imperative that we ensure the community and the local environment are fully protected.” 

 Quotes attributable to Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch  

“From the moment I became a candidate for Gosford, this issue has been raised by many local residents and environment groups, and that’s because it raises serious questions about whether a landfill like this should be located, and potentially expanded, at Mangrove Mountain. 

 “I said I would go into the NSW Parliament to fight for my community, and in my first sitting week that is exactly what I’m doing. We have a special and beautiful natural environment on the Central Coast and I want to make sure it gets the protection it deserves. 

"I will not give up on the important issue of ensuring the drinking water of our community is protected from potential leaking of leachate into the Central Coast's drinking water catchment." 


Questions placed on notice 4 May 2017 – Penny Sharpe MLC to the Minister for the Environment 

In relation to the Mangrove Mountain Landfill site:

1.            Has an environmental review of the landfill site now been conducted? If so:

               a.            Who conducted the review?

               b.            What were the findings of the review?

               c.             What actions will be taken as a result of the review, if any?

               d.            Will the review be made public? 

2.            What was the outcome of the investigation by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in conjunction with Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) special investigators of an allegation of sediment being washed into a nearby unnamed creek in August 2015? 

3.            Given that the original 1998 council consent for the site approved remodelling of the Mangrove Mountain Golf Course involving a small amount of clean fill, with a limit of 80,000m3 of fill that was set in an area known as Area B and regulated by an environment protection licence (licence number 11395), can the Minister provide details of the reasons the EPA elected to renew this licence multiple times given there is now approximately 800,000m3 of waste on the site that is not all clean fill, which is approximately ten times the original planning proposal? 

4.            Did the EPA renew environment protection licence 11395 eight times since 2008 without taking into consideration sections 45(i) and 50 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, which requires the EPA to take into consideration any relevant environmental impact statement (EIS) when reviewing such licences?

               a.            Given the original EIS for the approved development application states that for Area B, 80,000m3 of fill material was permitted to be imported, and that each of the licence renewals since 2008 confirm there was more than 80,000m3 in Area B, in breach of the EIS, why was the licence renewed on these occasions?

               b.            Is the Minister aware of any concerns that these previous licence renewals may therefore be invalid? 

5.            What action will the Minister take to address recent estimates that 85 per cent of the existing waste mound at the site is unlined, with ineffective lining on the remaining 15 per cent, and that approximately 3 million litres of leachate is produced annually by the present waste mound and may be leaking into local groundwater? 

6.            Would a landfill of this size and nature at this location, and within a drinking water catchment be given initial approval under the EPA's current 'Environmental Guidelines: Solid Waste Landfills'? 

7.            Given the recent development approval to further increase the permitted landfill capacity from 800,000m3 to 1.3 million m3, will the Minister intervene in order to re-evaluate the appropriateness of a landfill of this size at this location, and either close and remediate the site or take action to ensure the site is made environmentally safe?

               a.            If not, why not?