HOUSEHOLD rubbish looks set to be trucked to an incinerator in Rockingham after Shire of Mundaring councillors met behind closed doors on Tuesday night to support the plan.
Last month the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC) confirmed a consortium led by Hitachi Zosen Inova was the preferred tender to process the waste at its yet to be built East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility (ERRRF).
EMRC chair David Fardig said five of its six member councils, the Shire of Mundaring, and the cities of Swan, Kalamunda, Bayswater and Belmont, had resolved to support the project.
“This is sufficient to progress with the project and the EMRC will progress the various agreements with HZI and finalise them once the remaining member (Town Bassendean) council has considered the item.”
Details of the deal have been shrouded in secrecy because it contains matters the EMRC say are commercial-in-confidence.
Rates Mundaring convenor John Bell said the community was being kept in the dark over the cost and potential risks of the proposal.
“Information is being gagged by the EMRC under a commercial and in confidence cloak,” he said.
“This is despite the fact that EMRC are likely to be significant financial beneficiaries.
“This is bad governance and secret squirrel business at its worst.
“The burning question which remains unanswered is what will be the cost to us, the ratepayers, and what are the risks to our community?”
Mundaring councillor Lynn Fisher said she understood the community’s frustration over the lack of public information on the proposal.
“I do not control what information is available, the EMRC controls it and I cannot breach confidentiality,” she said.
“The decision is based on a lot work-shopping, questions and document reading by councillors over at least the past two years.
“Questions raised by residents have been answered in the workshops, but all of the answers are not publicly available due to what has been identified by the EMRC as commercial in confidence.”
WA Greens East Metropolitan MLC Tim Clifford said residents should have a say.
“The local community is being left in the dark when it comes to decisions about how their waste will be treated,” he said.
“This EMRC proposal will see residual waste from local residents trucked as far as 100km south to the ERRRF.
“There is a lack of transparency in communicating and consulting with the very residents who have been reducing, recycling and reusing. Surely they should have a say in this.”
Environmental campaigner Jane Bremmer said she was outraged all member councils went behind closed doors to discuss a decision ‘clearly in the public interest’.
“The EMRC’s waste administration has for decades railroaded the east metro community, particularly our elected representatives, into supporting this polluting and unsustainable technology,” she said.
“Councillors have faced serious threats of legal action by EMRC administration attached to the confidentiality restrictions imposed on members about what is essentially a public interest issue and major environmental justice threat.
“The region has consistently rejected this dirty energy waste disposal technology in favour of more sustainable and effective zero waste solutions.
“The EMRC has made the wrong technology decision and has treated the community with an unparalleled level of disdain, disrespect and recalcitrance that can only be redressed through a thorough investigation.”
Cr Fisher said Red Hill would come to the end of its landfill capacity eventually and there needed to be a long- term waste solution.
“The six local governments will likely get a better outcome if resources and interests are pooled to find an acceptable long-term solution for all,” she said.
“Over the past decade many models have been assessed by the EMRC and in community consultation.
“This model requires no capital investment by any of the local governments.”