COFFS HARBOUR WASTE FACILITY
Mr ANDREW FRASER
(Coffs Harbour) [11.46 a.m.]: I draw the attention of the House to an article by the mayor of Coffs Harbour City Council that appeared in the Coffs Coast Independent
this week headed "Bending the minister's ear". He refers to the Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, who attended a waste management conference in Coffs Harbour in the week before last. He made a few blues while he was there but I have raised those in the House. I want to refer to the issues that the mayor raised with the Minister and a couple more.
The mayor showed the Minister where the volunteers of the coastal rescue service are based on Beacon Hill. However, the regrowth vegetation there obscures their view of the water so if a vessel gets into trouble the rescue organisation cannot see it. Those trees should be cleared. The mayor also asked the Minister for permission to clear the drains. As members will know, I have raised on many occasions in the House the lack of maintenance of the drains, which has been the major cause of severe flood problems not only in Coffs Harbour but in areas of Sawtell, and Urunga, which is in the Bellingen local government area, particularly during the floods last year. Many properties were damaged.
Coramba Sports Ground also flooded. That brings to mind the fact that something like $80,000 in grants has been promised for Coramba Sports Ground but they are sitting on some bureaucrat's desk here in Sydney and the cheques have not been signed. I suggest the Minister should get those cheques signed so the work can be done on Coramba Sports Ground, the home of the Rabbitohs when they are in Coffs Harbour. The Rabbitohs are sponsored by Russell Crowe and I am sure he would not be very happy to know that the ground is in such a state of disrepair because of the lax attitude of a bureaucrat in the department in Sydney, or it could be the Minister for that matter.
The issue that the mayor did not raise with the Minister for Climate Change and the Environment was the waste facility at England's Road. That facility has been in operation for four or five years or maybe longer. The first stage was opened by the Hon. Pam Allan, the then Minister for the Environment. The stench from that particular plant is totally unacceptable. Zeno and Mandy Baston live adjacent to the plant and have been complaining about it for years. Every time a complaint is made the Environment Protection Authority, the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water and the council say it is operating to plan. About 800 metres from the plant are the local Bunnings store and dozens of businesses in a developing retail/industrial area. The stench is overwhelming. Someone like me who has a weak stomach can go to Bunnings and at times you are almost dry-retching because of the stench.
One elderly constituent recently contacted my office and said she had been to see the manager of Bunnings and told him to check the premises. She said she thought there was something dead and that he ought to search the premises and get rid of it because the stench was so bad. I believe that this waste depot is breaching environmental regulations as the stench is affecting an area several kilometres wide. Council sterilised the homes in a housing development surrounding that area and other developments purely because of the stench coming from that plant. It is incumbent on the Minister for the Environment and Coffs Harbour City Council to stop procrastinating and to fix the problem. If it cannot fix the problem it should shift the tip. Council had 600 acres close to Nana Glen where it wanted to establish a waste depot, but it has since sold that property to a developer.
That would have been an ideal site for the waste depot, as it is out in the middle of nowhere, and the issues that are plaguing residents and those who shop in Bunnings and in other stores in that industrial area could have been resolved. As I said earlier, I believe that the waste depot is breaching the provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. I invite the Minister for the Environment to visit the area and to assess this problem. The Minister said he would not get rid of prawn trawling operations in that area, but I notice in a recent media release he said that he would. The Minister should assess this problem, which is making people physically ill in their workplaces and in their homes. It is not good enough and it must be resolved immediately. The Minister must ensure that current regulations are enforced to remedy this problem.