Serious concerns about the environmental safety of bringing in waste material to fill the former Bell Quarry has been raised by Lithgow City Councillors.
Councillors discussed the proposal at the regular meeting of council on November 27. The proposal, which will go before the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) for approval, is to fill the quarry with 1.5 million tonnes of ‘virgin’ and ‘excavated natural material’ as well as other clean fill from Sydney.
The application states the process would include a “vehicle haulage rate of up to 140,000 tonnes per annum”, according to a report presented to council.
The proposal has drawn strong resistance from nearby residents.
Cr Cassandra Coleman said council already had long-term policies in place opposing the acceptance of waste imported in from other areas.
She said she was concerned about a plan that could see truckloads of waste travelling major roads, including the Great Western Highway and the Bells Line of Road, to access the site on Sandham Road, Newnes Junction.
“What happens if it tips over?” Cr Coleman asked at the council’s meeting.
“I’m very concerned about the natural environment. I would not want our area taking any waste from outside, regardless of what it is.
“We are not a dumping ground and our environment needs to be protected.”
Councillor Steve Ring said inadequate details had been provided on the plan to allow council to take an informed stand on the issue.
No details have been provided about what the waste will be made up of or where it will come from.
“If it is clean filled, I would support it, but there would have to be strong guarantees and controls to avoid asbestos or any other waste coming into our area. But clean fill is definitely not a problem,” he said.
There had already been backlash against the council from the community on the issue, Cr Joe Smith said.
Lithgow City and Blue Mountains councils will be involved in examining the plan, but the Joint Regional Planning Panel will make a ruling on whether the fill plan can go ahead.
Mayor Stephen Lesslie sits on the JRPP and excused himself from the chamber during discussions on the plan. Lithgow will also be represented on the panel by director or economic development Andrew Muir.
Council noted the report.