Southern Metropolitan Regional Council confident it can cover loss of Cockburn

Chairman Doug Thompson says the SMRC can handle the withdrawal of the City of Cockburn.
Chairman Doug Thompson says the SMRC can handle the withdrawal of the City of Cockburn.

The Southern Metropolitan Regional Council (SMRC) says losing one of its founding members will not hurt its direction or lead to fee hikes.

Cockburn councillors voted this month to issue a notice of withdrawal from the SMRC’s establishment and project participants agreements, effective from July, 2019.

The local government was a founding member alongside the cities of Fremantle, Melville, Kwinana and the Town of East Fremantle back in 1999.

But Cockburn has restructured its waste management operations over the last few years, with general waste its remaining link to the SMRC.

While it will continue supplying everyday rubbish to the SMRC until June 2020, engineering and works director Charles Sullivan said the City’s plan to “dispose of municipal solid waste by a waste-to-energy facility in 2021” meant ties could be cut.

Councillors voted 9-0 in support of Mr Sullivan’s recommendation to withdraw.

In a statement, SMRC chairman Doug Thompson said Cockburn had been a valued member over the last 19 years but measures were in place to counter the loss.

“The full withdrawal of the City will not directly impact the strategic direction of the SMRC or its ability to continue to deliver cost effective, innovative and sustainable waste management solutions for its members,” he said.

“The SMRC is currently working with three of its member councils (Fremantle, Melville and East Fremantle) to implement the State Waste Authorities preference of a three-bin Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) system, with the aim of a full-scale implementation across all three councils.

“By being fully aligned with the State Waste Hierarchy, adoption of the FOGO system is designed to increase diversion from landfill, improve recycling rates, generate a higher quality unrestricted use compost whilst significantly reducing processing costs.”

Mr Thompson said outstanding loans would still be paid.

“The City of Cockburn will continue to meet it obligations regarding its loan liability for the Regional Resource Recovery Centre project of $8.39 million … and this will continue to be paid by the City to the SMRC until the loans are fully repaid to the WA Treasury Corporation,” he said.

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