Ballarat Council is “very close” to securing a private investor for its long-awaited waste-to-energy processing facility at the Ballarat West Employment Zone (BWEZ) site.
Ballarat Council CEO Justine Linley confirmed on Friday that they were conducting due diligence with “a couple” of potential private investors to fund the waste to energy facility. Council has been pushing for the facility since 2012 and seeking both State and Federal funding to progress the plant it hopes will divert more than 60 per cent of Ballarat's municipal waste into affordable, safe energy.
In January this year Ms Linley said that if council was snubbed in budget funding, it would look to private investment. “This will be private sector investment … we can’t wait for government.”
While not in a position to identify the potential partners or investment sums, Ms Linley said they had had several approaches from “predominantly international companies” over the past 18 months.
She said Council “very definitely had a solid plan” but would not be drawn on the time frame for a signed partnership deal and when the project would commence. “It’s important that we continue to work with these companies … we are close but clearly there is commercial in confidence so we can’t go down that path … provide those details.”
“We always said three years and, given that we are in a policy void and an election year … this is reliant on regulatory change and freeing up the ability to do some of these things.
“We have to choose the right partner and that can take some time,” Ms Linley said. “I am not into Vegas weddings. We want a long-term marriage here ... we have to do our due diligence.”
Asked about the cost of the project, Ms Linley said the facility could potentially cost anywhere from “$20 million to hundreds of thousands of millions”. She said the “policy vacuum” is a major obstacle.
“No one is talking about recycling or processing amounts of municipal waste on the scale we are talking about. This will be a regional solution and it will have significant regional impact.”
Councillor Ben Taylor said the 44-hectare BWEZ site was an ideal location for investors.
“I don’t think you can go anywhere in Victoria and see land like this with its transport access, correct buffers, with a purpose-designed industrial area.”