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January 27, 2022

Do you think Byron Shire needs a bioenergy facility?

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Elevation of Byron Shire Council’s proposed Bioenergy facility.

Byron Shire Council is proposing to process the Shire’s residential and commercial organic waste and convert it into renewable energy and a compost product by building a fully enclosed bioenergy facility. The development application (DA) 10.2021.364.1 is now on display for public comment.

‘Over 20,000 tonne a year of the region’s organic waste is currently transported to Queensland, so this facility presents an opportunity for Byron Shire to take control of its own organic waste with a local solution,’ said John Hart, council’s Senior Project Manager for the bioenergy facility project.

The construction of the facility is estimated to cost between $15–20 million and Council is currently applying for State and Federal grants. Mr Hart said Council would meet its contribution towards the project from loan borrowings with no planned increase to rates or Council charges to ratepayers.

Council are saying that the primary objective of the bioenergy facility project is to reduce carbon emissions by diverting organic waste from landfill, reducing long distance truck movements and creating a secure and reliable renewable energy source for the Byron Bay STP.

Byron Council project manager, John Hart. Image Paul Bibby

The facility is designed to generate between 3 to 4 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy per year, which is approximately 50-70 percent of Council’s total annual grid electricity consumption. It would reduce Council’s carbon emissions by up to 20 percent (equivalent to taking 1,030 cars/year off the road) and remove the Byron STP from grid electricity. Excess energy would be dispatched to the grid on demand.

The proposed development would be confined within the sewage treatment plant grounds at Wallum Place, Byron Bay. If approved, the facility is estimated to commence construction in 2022.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is also available to view as part of the DA, which defines how Council will manage and minimise any potential impacts arising from the proposed construction of the facility.

Mr Hart said an online community survey conducted by Council earlier this year indicated 96 percent of respondents were in support of the bioenergy facility concept.

‘It is important for the community to understand the public exhibition stage is their opportunity to provide any feedback as part of the DA process, which will then be assessed by the Northern Regional Planning Panel,’ he said.

The DA and EIS are available to view via Council’s Bioenergy webpage and on Council’s online DA Tracker – search for Bioenergy Facility.

You can also view the DA in person at Council, 70 Station Street, Mullumbimby during business hours, Monday to Friday until Tuesday 10 August 2021.

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  1. Sweden has been taking Europes rubbish for quite awhile now, they burn this rubbish which generates energy that runs the plant. There are virtually no emmissions due to the manner in which the rubbish is disposed of.
    I do not understand why ALL our local Councils’ don’t build bioenergy facilities to deal with the landfil of their residents. The flow on could well mean taking rubbish from Sydney or even Brisbane.

    • Because incineration of garbage with energy recovery is more carbon intensive than coal;-fired power. The technology needed to keep emissions down to very low levels is expensive, and is unlikely to be used in Australia due to the lax regulatory culture. Then there is the headache of disposing of the toxic ash afterwards. Incineration diverts materials from higher-level uses such as recycling, and circular economy priorities such as reuse and repair.

  2. Why use organic waste for energy when it needs to be used for composting (can they be done simultaneously without reducing composting capacity?)?

    Especially when there are better options for bioenergy?


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