RUBBISH AND DEMOCRACY
The country was stunned at the news that China would no longer import recycled materials, prompting understandable concern as to how it would affect our recyclables collection. Whilst the long-term effects on a trade exceeding a million tonnes per annum are yet to play out, for now the products we carefully separate into our yellow bins are finding new markets and it is business as usual. Hills residents are very good recyclers and our yellow and green bins have low contamination rates compared to other areas. In any waste disposal program, as we join the worldwide trend to reduce landfill and recycle more, effective sorting before binning greatly assists this important community program.
Alongside recycling, the other global trend which is now a mature industry in Europe is that of converting waste to electricity. High temperature incinerators consume most of Europe’s waste, are odour free and emit essentially clean flue gas. Rockingham Council in WA have commissioned the construction of an incinerator which will burn 30,000 tonnes of the community’s rubbish and feed approximately 25 Megawatts of electricity into the grid.
Council vigorously resisted the introduction of Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs) but was ultimately forced to accept this huge change to the way Development Applications (DAs) are assessed. Significant development will no longer be considered by Councillors with DAs, after assessment by our planners, proceeding to the local IHAP for final consideration. The implementation of this change to our planning regime significantly diminishes the opportunity for residents to influence decisions and, some would argue, reflects poorly on our democracy. There is no doubt that as Sydney soars toward a population of 8 million by around 2050, good planning decisions are pivotal in achieving a liveable and connected city of such a size but councillors, as residents’ elected representatives and having listened to their communities, should not be denied the opportunity to debate and influence outcomes.
A proposal to build a mosque in Glenhaven has had Councillors inundated with well-considered, justifiable and strident objections but unfortunately is an example of how IHAPs have emasculated our decision making. We will have no say in the process as a potential significant disrupter to a quiet, semi-rural community is assessed.