I was very heartened to see you speak in the Assembly Wednesday 15 February 2017 expressing your concerns with the FOY proposal in Hume. I’m not sure how much you and your staff already know about the proposal, but apart from the health and safety concerns, there are several relevant facts that are not being mentioned anywhere “inside” the process. They are politically sensitive and need to become public.
- All of the “non-recyclable” plastic they want to convert into fuel is, in fact, recyclable. See here.
- The proponents plan to import at least 73,000 tonnes of potentially contaminated plastic into the ACT by truck each year from QLD, VIC and NSW to feed their refinery. One has to ask why we are their dumping ground?
- This one facility seriously damages the ACT government’s credibility on its 2020 GHG emission targets – so: why is the Government bothering to set them?
- The GHG emissions from this proposal completely undo the contribution made by ALL of the ACT’s solar panels (industrial and domestic).
- No ACT waste will actually be diverted from landfill. According to an ACT Government waste report, we only produce around 4,000 tonnes of waste plastic a year so it’s not economically viable for the company to set up a recovery facility to use our small amount of plastic in the refinery. One has to ask: if you’re going to do this, why set it up hundreds of kilometres from the waste?
- The NSW EPA has denied the company permission to do exactly this plastic-to-fuel conversion in NSW on safety and environmental grounds. We assume the Planning Minister is well apprised of its reasons and has done extensive research to disprove the NSW EPA’s objections, otherwise, he should not be entertaining the proposal.
- FOY has been suspended from trading on the ASX since mid-2015. One of the ASX’s conditions for them to re-list is approval to convert plastic-to-fuel at Berkeley Vale once the acquisition of that facility goes through. The NSW EPA has denied them doing so, hence they are jurisdiction shopping looking for a planning environment that will allow an experimental facility to go ahead.
- The companies (FOY and IGE, the owners of Berkeley Vale) have never done this before. Their facility at Berkeley Vale has never processed plastic to fuel. All of their “data” is based on assumptions; not evidence.
We believe the first dot point above is sufficient reason to stop this proposal now. Unfortunately, most of the above came to light after we suggested the Inquiry Panel to Minister Gentleman (you can see a copy of the letter on www.nopowerstation.com).
Worryingly, the Government’s approach to the Inquiry Panel looks like it is being set up to deliver a pre-determined outcome: ie.
- The ToR are unnecessarily narrow and needlessly restrict consideration of the proposal, in particular, there is no debate on the first, pivotal dot-point above. We have provided comments to Minister Gentleman’s office but I have not yet seen the final ToR.
- The timings for the consultation look like they are designed to minimise attendance.
- The Public Hearing is during Business Hours. The drop-In session admittedly extends to 6.00 pm albeit on a Monday.
- Given the level of public interest, would it not have been politic to arrange a Saturday or Sunday session?
- Both sessions are in Tuggeranong. Is someone trying to suggest this is a NIMBY issue? It’s not – it affects the ACT’s GHG targets, not Tuggeranong’s. Mawson is equidistant; Woden not much further. Why not have a session there – or, better still, outside the Legislative Assembly Building during business hours?
- Only those who made submissions on the original EIS are being invited to attend the Public Hearing. The information in my first five dot points all came to light after the submissions closed, so it seems anyone who now wants to contribute cannot. This seems petty and arbitrary.
As you mentioned in your address on Wednesday, we should keep an open mind about proposals such as this, however, a lot of your constituents still do not know about the proposal. It’s happening near where they work and live and it looks, from every angle, like a bad idea. We request you stand up for the people of your electorate and become a voice opposing this proposal.
If I can provide additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me. We would be happy to meet in person as well.
[Since receiving the letter Ms Burch has responded saying she will follow up the information and offering times to meet at a mobile office.]