Road danger never considered


More rubbish spilled in 2nd trucking disaster as Ministers pass buck over ongoing landfill debacle 

Michael Sinclair-Jones
THE STATE Government claims it is powerless to stop millions of tonnes of rotting Perth garbage being dumped in Toodyay.
And it appears that nobody at any level of government looked at the danger of adding hundreds more heavy trucks to Toodyay Road – one of WA’s worst for fatal crashes and serious accidents – when State planning and environmental approvals were granted.
The risk was highlighted this month when a heavy rubbish truck carrying building and other waste from Perth crashed at the corner of Toodyay Road and Fernie Road, spilling waste (pictured below) onto nearby bushland as other heavy rubbish trucks queued to pass.
It was the second serious accident in six weeks involving spillage of waste material by a truck using Toodyay Road after another heavy rubbish truck caught fire and was destroyed near Noble Falls in August, tipping contaminated waste into Wooroloo Brook.
All hopes to block the controversial landfill project now rest with local public objections to a dumping licence being issued under environmental law.
Perth waste management company Opal Vale Pty Ltd is in the final stages of seeking approval to starting dumping millions of tonnes of Perth garbage in a former brickworks claypit in Hoddys Well, about 13km south of the Toodyay townsite.
The rubbish will be carted in hundreds more heavy trucks and trailers each week on a 50km stretch of high-risk Toodyay Road between Roe Highway and the Fernie Road turn-off to the Chitty Road dump site.
Two Labor State Ministers passed the buck last month when asked by The Toodyay Herald about ongoing local concerns.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson’s office said it was a planning matter and that questions should be addressed to Planning and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.
Ms Saffiotti’s office said the previous Liberal government had granted planning permission to build the tip and that this process had been completed “years ago”.
If the Department of Water and Environment Regulation (DWER) granted Opal Vale a licence to start dumping rubbish at the new tip, objectors would have a right to appeal against the conditions set by the licence, a State Government spokesperson said.
However, neither minister had power to intervene to stop the tip, he said.
TOODYAY Road traffic safety “would have formed part of the planning application which was considered and approved by the Shire of Toodyay in 2016”, the State Government spokesperson said.
However, there is no evidence that adding hundreds of tonnes of heavy haulage to what the RAC this year called WA’s fourth most dangerous country road was considered by any level of government when planning and environmental approvals were granted.
The shire initially rejected the landfill bid but was overruled on appeal to the State Administrative Tribunal because Opal Vale applied for the Chitty Road site before local planning laws were amended to ban landfill.
The company had six months to obtain   works approval from the former Department of Environment Regulation (DER), which was granted despite objections on the last day, just hours before that deadline expired.
Opponents claim the DER faced extreme political and commercial pressure to agree to let large volumes of metropolitan rubbish generated by Perth’s growing population be dumped in Toodyay because of a previous Liberal government ban on new landfill sites on the Swan Coastal Plain.
Opal Vale repeatedly breached groundwater protection standards after getting approval to build the $3 million tip but the DER agreed to  the company’s request to overlook these failures despite ongoing public objections.
In State Parliament last month, local WA Nationals MP Shane Love held up photos of the waterlogged Chitty Road landfill site from last month’s Herald Page 3 and said:
“Today I received an email from a constituent. I will read it out. These are his words, not mine. This is a feeling that people have in the area. He states:
“Would they (MPs) be aware that a cowboy outfit with a dodgy environmental record is set to make a fast buck from dumping millions of tonnes of rotting Perth garbage in a fragile Hills ecosystem because there is no coherent State waste management policy? 
“Or put another way, what modern capital city in the world has no waste management plan?”
Local opponents have lodged fresh objections claiming that Opal Vale’s breaches of environmental safety standards demonstrate that it can’t be trusted to dump large volumes of rotting rubbish at the site, which is only 900m from Jimperding Brook. 
They also claim the company is in breach of groundwater monitoring conditions set under the terms of shire planning approval.

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