A significant expansion of North Coast Recycling (NCR) operations was controversially approved (3-2) at Wednesday’s Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP), held in Ballina.
It comes as the company is currently under investigation from the Environmental Planning authority (EPA) over breaches of their handling of asbestos. Some neighbouring businesses are now preparing to relocate.
Both local Ballina Shire Council panel members Cr Keith Williams and Cr Sharon Cadwallader voted against approving the DA.
The development application (DA) for North Coast Recycling (NCR) expands their ‘existing resource recovery facility to process 30,000 tons per annum of construction waste and carry out associated building works, infrastructure works and earthworks.’
Cr Williams stated at the meeting that he supported deferral and would vote against approving the DA as he was not satisfied the development met the requirements of State Environmental Planning Policy 33 Hazardous and Offensive Industries.
He added that he was not convinced the development could ensure that there was no impact on neighbouring businesses and residential areas from dust and the risk of asbestos handling on the site.
Significant expansion of operations
As the application sought expansion from 6,000 tonnes to ‘up to 30,000 tonnes’ per annum, Cr Williams had asked staff earlier in the meeting, if it was legally possible to condition the approval with a processing limit lower than 30,000 tonnes. He was advised that in their view, this could not be done.
Objections had been raised to the expansion by local residents and businesses who alleged that the business had historically operated outside its DA conditions.
‘According to the Deputy (acting) Chair of the Panel (NRPP), it came down to the legislation requiring that the DA be decided prima face, without consideration of past breaches,’ said Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Perry.
‘Nobody denied there were past breaches, ∗[NCRs town planer (who previously worked for BSC ), but who now works as a consultant] . So seven years of breaches of past DAs, with massive indisputable evidence, were swept under the carpet to approve this new facility.’
Local businesses will have to move
According to Jeffrey Gibbs who is CEO and founder of the Northern Light Candle Company, that produces food grade beeswax candles, and is located next door to North Coast Recycling ‘The DA was passed last night on the narrowest of margins, 3-2. The last panellist was tottering but finished with “But the EPA has ticked off on it so…”’ they voted in favour of the DA.
‘Northern Light has no other choice but to relocate now, we are being and have been covered in dust,’ said Mr Gibbs.
Another local business has also confirmed with Echonetdaily that they are now looking to relocate due to the DAs approval as they also run an food grade business.
‘I was quite shocked at the decision of the panel,’ said the business owner who asked not to be named.
‘’I’m a food processor and I have written three to four submissions to council over the dust etc. But what I can’t understand is whey there has been no action.
‘This needs to be looked at properly so that they can deal with peoples fears. It should be based on our best standards and ensure that it remains clean and free of pollutants. It is a really big issue,’ they told Echonetdaily.
Local resident Wayne Baird, who has ten children, also said he attended the NRPP meeting with his main concerns being the dust, noise and early starts.
He said they have started early in the past but following a letter to the Ballina Shire Council that hasn’t happened recently.
‘I wrote a couple of letters to council,’ said Mr Baird. ‘I will now be writing to the EPA.’
He said he was concerned about the impact of the DA as it has been alleged that they hadn’t been able to stick to the conditions of their last DA.
‘I’m worried that they will go further. If managed properly with the regulation and in the right position’ it could work he said.
‘It is necessary to recycle waste. But there are better places to do it away from residents and other businesses.’
♦ Mr Ben Graham of North Coast Recycling was contacted.
∗ This story has been updated 22.11.2019: Councillor Sharon Perry has corrected her statement clarifying that it was NCRs town planer (who previously worked for BSC ), but who now works as a consultant not NCR’s lawyer who didn’t deny there were past breaches.