The Department recommended that the Eastern Creek facility be refused, saying it assessed the application "on its merits and in accordance with relevant NSW policies and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979," adding the refusal was based on advice received from independent experts and government agencies, including the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Health NSW.
NSW Health has advised it is unable to support the proposal in its current form while the EPA has advised the proposal is inconsistent with the NSW Energy from Waste Policy Statement (2015). Concerns raised throughout the public exhibition period centred on the proposal's impacts on local air quality, the risk to human health and the proposed facility's proximity to residential houses.
Ultimately, reasons cited by the Department for refusal include:
- the development is inconsistent with key requirements of the NSW Energy from Waste Policy Statement (EPA 2015);
- the impacts to air quality and risk to human health are unknown;
- the Applicant has not adequately justified the scale of the facility;
- the development has the potential to result in waste being used for energy recovery rather than higher order resource recovery outcomes directly contravening the overarching principles of waste avoidance and recovery enshrined in the waste hierarchy;
- the development is inconsistent with state and regional strategic planning for waste infrastructure needs;
- the development is not supported by the local community, local councils, special interest groups and local businesses;
- the Applicant has not obtained community acceptance for the proposal; and
- the development is not in the public interest.
The planning process for DADI's TNG facility has come quite a long way, with the company having already spent million on the project and scaling back its original proposal of treating 1.35 million tonnes of residual waste per year to 552,000 tonnes per year.
DADI CEO Ian Malouf has also asserted time and again that the plant will not treat everything that comes along.
"There are 140 million reasons why we won't put the wrong things in this plant because we won't get the levy off if we do. If we don't respect the 75% recycling ratio for C&D and the 50% recycling ratio for C&I, which is part of policy, we won't get the levy back," Malouf previously told Inside Waste.
Earlier this month, Malouf vowed to fight on, maintaining that rigorous assessments of EfW proposals will work in the technology's favour and pointing to hundreds of facilities around the world built by HZI, DADI's nominated technology supplier, that are operating safety and successfully.
His confidence in the facility and technology has also been shown in him welcoming further scrutiny to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all involved.
It is not over yet as consent rests with the Independent Planning Commission which will assess the project and conduct further public hearings. A determination is expected to be made with three months of receiving the Department's assessment.