Smythesdale landfill works push ahead as city looks for waste options

Ballarat Town Hall
Ballarat Town Hall

Works on the Smythesdale Landfill to create more waste capacity will continue ahead of time, as councillors consider other options to reduce the amount of money spent on landfill. 

At a special council meeting on Wednesday night, City of Ballarat approved advanced cashflow of $1.68 million for landfill cell construction at the Smythesdale Landfill. It means next financial’s years scheduled works on the landfill will get under way early.

City of Ballarat’s director of infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo said the cell construction at the Smythesdale landfill started this financial year, and was anticipated to be completed in the 2018/19 financial year. 

“With the benefit of a mild winter, the construction phase is ahead of schedule and hence the financial commitment to the cell construction has had to be brought forward,” he said. 

“Council provides the air space for landfill operations in advance of the requirement with the projected cell construction mapped to the anticipated waste volumes.”

In the quarterly report approved at the meeting, council officers stated they forecast the city would be in a cash position $4.21 million lower than expected for the full 2017/18 financial year. This is due to the additional financial outlay for the Smythesdale Landfill, as well as an additional $2.4 million to complete the Ballarat West Link road, approved by council in December. 

Councillor Ben Taylor

Councillor Ben Taylor

Councillor Ben Taylor said at the meeting while council has to approve money for the landfill each year, in light of recycling waste technology, it’s a “big slab of money” that could be used elsewhere.

“We need to be prudent with these discussions, and particularly in light of Sustainability Victoria’s report on community perceptions around climate change,” he said. 

“We need to ask how we get waste away from landfill, and get it into recycling measures.”

The city current provides a waste service to 40,000 residential homes, as well as businesses and commercial operations. 

According to the City of Ballarat’s draft Resource Recovery and Waste Management Strategy 2018-22, it is projected by 2026 waste generation in Ballarat would rise to approximately 61,000 tonnes each year.  

The draft strategy notes the city aims to remove all recoverable waste from landfill contributions by 2040. 

Waste levy increased 10 per cent in the draft budget

Ratepayers will soon get their say on the City of Ballarat’s upcoming budget, with more clarity given around what Ballarat can expect from increasing recycling charges. 

The waste management charge for ratepayers is set to increase by around 10 per cent to $339.51, while the green waste charge will increase to $68.23 annually. 

China announced from January 1 it would no longer import and process Australia’s recycling waste, throwing the sector into chaos and hiking up waste charges across the country. A new contract between City of Ballarat and their recycling contractor SKM has still not been signed. 

City of Ballarat’s director of infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo said the city believes the waste charges in the draft budget are “worst cast scenario”, despite still not having a contract signed due to discussions about “transport costs”. 

Councillor Ben Taylor said a ten per cent rise to waste charges seemed “very lenient”, considering increases in bordering municipalities. Hepburn Shire Council’s kerbside recycling charge has increased more than 71 per cent in their 2018/19 budget.

Following approval at a special council meeting on Wednesday night, the draft budget will go on public exhibition for 28 days from May 21. Council will hold a public meeting on June 27 to consider and adopt the 2018/19 budget and strategic resource plan, following submissions on the document. 

The draft budget also outlines an increase to rates of 2.25 percent, which is the highest possible rate increase as capped by the Essential Services Commission in December for the 2018/19 financial year. 

City of Ballarat’s CFO Glenn Kallio said council is “hamstrung” in what it can achieve due to the rate cap.