A COMMUNITY campaign against a massive landfill proposed for Leongatha South is gaining pace, with the launch of a new petition calling on the State Government to step in and ban the dump.
A group of concerned residents have initiated the petition opposing the plan by French company Veolia to turn an exhausted quarry at Whitelaws Track into a tip for Melbourne’s waste, resulting in 20 trucks delivering rubbish coming through Leongatha and Koonwarra daily.
The petition states the landfill could “irreversibly contaminate the water catchment, compromise agricultural production and cause an unjust impact on the people of South Gippsland”.
The group will hold a public meeting at the Koonwarra Hall on October 7, a day after Veolia holds an information session in Leongatha.
Group spokesperson Wendy Reed said the petition asks the Legislative Assembly to call on the State Government to protect South Gippsland from becoming a landfill for south east Melbourne.
“Hopefully we can block Veolia coming into South Gippsland before it even starts the planning process,” she said.
The petition will be distributed to businesses across the region – including The Star office in Leongatha – and will be presented to the assembly by Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien.
“Melbourne needs to be able to deal with its own waste,” Ms Reed said.
The group’s Facebook page ‘Dump the Dump’ continues to gain popularity and the group is seeking donations to fund its campaign.
The petition comes as The Star learnt Melbourne may not need the landfill proposed for Leongatha South.
The landfill must first be approved by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group. The group is now assessing expressions of interest for new landfills to service Melbourne, one of them being the Leongatha South proposal.
But a group representative said the group was still determining whether Melbourne needed a regional landfill to dispose of its waste or could contain it within the city’s boundaries.
The representative told The Star that if even the group approved the Leongatha South landfill, the group could only make a recommendation to the Gippsland Regional Waste Management Group to consider it.
The Gippsland group would then have to embark on a similar assessment process that would again analyse Veolia’s proposal.
Veolia submitted the Leongatha South proposal for consideration under the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan that will set out how the waste and resource recovery infrastructure needs of Melbourne would be met over at least the next 10 years.
The Star understands the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group will make a decision about whether the Leongatha South proposal is needed by the end of this month.
Leongatha South dairy farmer Gordon Vagg lives near the proposed landfill site. He urged the State Government to revive a proposal flagged by a previous State Government to build a rubbish furnace in the Latrobe Valley.
That would burn rubbish from Melbourne to power turbines that would generate electricity.
“They would then have free fuel for the power. That’s what they should be doing,” he said.
Should the landfill at Leongatha South proceed, South Gippsland Shire Council has not ruled out seeking to use the landfill to dispose of rubbish from South Gippsland should operational costs prove cheaper than council’s existing landfill at Koonwarra.
The Koonwarra landfill is expected to operate until at least 2031, with a fourth cell to be built this year and capacity for a fifth cell.
“We will then have another possible area that could take us beyond 2031,” council’s sustainability coordinator Geoff McKinnon said.
He said council had not experienced leakage or groundwater impacts at Koonwarra, even in two unlined cells at Koonwarra that were built before legislation required landfills to be lined.
The landfill will seek to dispose of waste from City of Greater Dandenong and Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
Mornington Peninsula Shire chief operating officer Alison Leighton said the council had made no decision to access the proposed landfill site in Leongatha South.
“The shire presently owns and operates a landfill in Rye, which is expected to be full by the end of 2017. On Monday, September 14, 2015, council resolved to commence an expression of interest process for the disposal of kerbside municipal waste at a location other than at the Rye landfill. No specific location has been identified at this stage,” she said.
- Veolia will hold a community information session about the landfill at the Grandstand Function Room, Leongatha Recreation Reserve on Tuesday, October 6 from 4-6.30pm.
- The community group’s meeting will be held at the Koonwarra Hall at 8pm, Wednesday, October 7.
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