THE Spring Terrace Water Group has queried Orange City Council’s ability to assess a proposal for an expanded waste facility, saying the responsibility should fall with the state government.
Group spokesman Robert Sanders said the council had assessed Polpure’s original application to treat grease trap waste and store oil-water separator waste at its Forest Road facility in 2009. Polpure has applied to expand operations to include septic tank waste, drill mud from mining exploration and agricultural liquid waste.
“When they approved it, no one in the area knew about it and if a fellow hadn’t done a letterbox drop, no one would know about this one,” Mr Sanders said.
“They approved this 600 metres from a school and one kilometre away from 20 water bores, plus it’s smack bang in the middle of a flood plain.”
Mr Sanders said if the council did not have the capacity to process liquid waste, it could create a conflict of interest.
“We think the Department of Planning should be the consent authority,” he said.
Orange City Council spokesman Allan Reeder said the public consultation processes were the same for both applications, involving letters to adjoining landholders and a public display of 30 days.
“State government legislation sets out the process and level of community consultation that must happen with proposals such as this, and the council has complied fully with these requirements,” he said.
Mr Reeder said all 35 submissions from the latest consultation period would be sent to the Environmental Protection Authority to help it decide whether to grant a licence. He said until the second development application was submitted, the facility had operated without complaint.
Mr Reeder said the council’s sewage treatment plant could process some liquid waste, but there were limits and the 3000 septic tanks throughout Orange needed to be dealt with responsibly.
“The proposed project may offer a preliminary treatment for waste from septic tanks before it’s brought to the sewage treatment plant, which would let the council plant operate more efficiently,” he said.
But he said there were systems in place to avoid potential conflicts of interest when businesses who supplied services to the council applied for development approval.
“In this case, there is the added factor that the proposal is being independently assessed through the technical expertise of the EPA,” Mr Reeder said.
A public meeting will be held on June 15 at the Spring Terrace Hall from 3pm.