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New draft law promises victory for Randwick campaign against waste burning

New draft legislation could see plans to burn truckloads of waste at the Opal papermill in Matraville scrapped. Photo: Randwick Council.

By PATRICK MCKENZIE

Plans to burn truckloads of waste at a controversial Opal papermill in Matraville could be scrapped under new draft regulations from the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) which, if approved by the state government, would render the proposal ineligible.

If approved, the new regulations would prohibit industries in the Sydney basin from using waste to energy technology if they’re already using more environmentally friendly fuel sources.

The EPA has confirmed that since the plant uses natural gas – which is considered more environmentally friendly than burning waste – the regulations would render the plans ineligible.

“These regulations are a step in the right direction but our community is holding our breath until they become law,” Randwick Mayor Dylan Parker said.

The ‘No More Incinerators’ group has spent years handing out leaflets, holding information sessions and circulating a petition to oppose the burning of waste at the plant, which sits adjacent to a residential area.

The plant would burn construction material and other non-organic waste to generate power for the mill, eliminating its reliance on gas and electricity.

However, the EPA has received an increased number of complaints about the odour and noise emanating from the plant since April 2021.

Randwick Council has been a strong participant in the campaign since 2019, labelling garbage trucks with ‘No Matraville Incinerator’ stickers and placing an advertisement outside of the International Airport.

“The proposed Matraville incinerator has been a dark cloud hanging over our community for three years. It shouldn’t have come to the community having to fight like this for the government to listen,” Cr Parker said.

“Local residents have been crystal clear, they do not want to live next to a commercial incinerator.”

Speaking to ABC News in early February, community members were concerned that the proximity of the plant to local houses could leave their backyards blanketed in ash.

Feedback on the Thermal Energy from Waste Draft Regulation 2021 remains open until March 20.

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