West is best but gets less:MP

Hi-Quality’s Sunbury Eco-Hub (supplied).

Zoe Moffatt

Concerns about the expansion of the Hi-Quality’s Sunbury Eco-Hub have reached parliament, with MP David Ettershank raising the concerns which continue to grow in the community.

Waste management company Hi-Quality Group is proposing to invest in state-of-the-art energy generation and expand its treatment, recovery and reuse solutions at the Sunbury Eco-Hub.

If the proposal is approved, the facility is expected to be fully operational by 2030.

As the Western Metropolitan representative Mr Ettershank raised the adjournment matter to the Minister for Planning on March 21, and said the community is rightly concerned about the environmental and health impacts of the proposal.

“Not to mention the thousands of additional truck movements the facility will force onto already congested and under-developed local roads,” he said.

“Waste-to-energy incineration is high risk and low reward. It locks in an ever-increasing generation of waste, is highly water intensive and does relatively little to reduce carbon emissions.”

Mr Ettershank said the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has laid 33 charges against Hi-Quality for breaches of EPA landfill licences and failure to comply with EPA remedial notices in the last year.

“Approving this latest project is akin to leaving the fox in charge of the hen house.

“The big question is why does the government keep dumping these filthy projects into the western suburbs?

“I guess it’s just really hard not to come to the conclusion that the west is just taken for granted by this government. The west is the best but it gets so much less.”

With the plan to send an additional 400 trucks to the facility in 2030, residents have raised concerns about the route these trucks would take.

In response to questions about these concerns, a Hi-Quality spokesperson said several existing and approved B-Double truck routes through both Bulla and Sunbury are being considered.

“The final routes and truck volumes travelling on each would depend on where the waste is coming from, and who is supplying it. Exact routes would be determined closer to the commencement of operations,” the spokesperson said.

“HiQ understands that truck movements are a concern for the community. It recommends that truck movements are dispersed across several different approved routes and… distributed across operational hours to reduce truck movements during peak hours.”

Sunbury Residents Association (SRA) president Graham Williams said he wants to know what monitoring of road conditions will be undertaken and reported, given some of the already badly deteriorated roads.

“If trucks are expected to come from approximately 10 to 12 other municipalities, why all to Sunbury when there must be other ‘Hubs of State Significance’ in other areas? ” Mr Williams asked.

“This suggests Sunbury is seen as the dumping ground of choice for the state.

“What does HiQ consider to be ‘peak’ times as many Sunbury residents work shift work including at the airport and will be sharing roads with these additional trucks.”

Mr Williams also raised concerns about the potential licence extension given the growth of new developments in the area.

The state government was contacted about Mr Ettershank’s comments but did not reply by deadline.