Mill's steam burner bid hauled over the coals

THE Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has stopped the clock on a proposal for a coal-fired steam burner in Manildra after the developers failed to provide enough information about environmental impacts. 

Opposition to the $500,000 development by MSM Milling at its existing canola mill site is mounting amid concerns about the use of coal, safety issues, air and water pollution and aesthetics.

Cabonne council received 33 submissions on the proposal when it was up for public viewing last month. 

Manildra residents formed a committee two weeks ago and planned to lobby against the burner, they say, will significantly impact on their way of life. 

Committee spokesperson and Cabonne councillor Marlene Nash, said residents would send MSM Milling directors a list of questions they want answered on Monday at a scheduled meeting with MSM Milling director Bob Mac Smith.

“The people of Manildra are not whingers ... it’s mainly just about the use of coal, it’s dirty, it’s outdated and a hazardous energy source,” she said. 

Mrs Nash said 64 people turned out at the community information meeting and “many more” had since found out about the proposal and were against it.

“We’re not standing in the way of progress,” she said. 

Mr Mac Smith said to secure the plant’s survival, the company had to move from butane gas energy to solid fuel, principally coal. 

He said MSM Milling would continue to be as open and transparent as possible when it came to addressing residents’ concerns. 

“The company is planning a bus trip to a plant currently using coal to generate steam, to allow interested employees, residents, councillors, council employees and business owners to see first hand how such a plant works and how such an operation fits in to a local community,” he said.

“Bear in mind our proposal is much, much smaller than large coal fired steam generators.

“If approved, our plant will use one-thousandth of the amount of coal used each week at the Mount Piper Station near Lithgow.”

The development application is stalled at the EPA because the existing canola mill is subject to licensing from the EPA and any new development application must first be assessed by the EPA before it can be approved by council.

The EPA staff indicated they required additional information from MSM Milling and requested council to freeze the application until it received the information.

Mr Mac Smith said the EPA asked for further noise, air and waste impact assessment statements and the company is in the process of providing the information as soon as possible. 

“We are committed to and proud of our plant, our workers, our products and the future of our business in Manildra. We need to make a change to ensure our future.”

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