With no solution yet to the vexed question of what will happen with red bin waste gathered under the Coffs Coast Waste Collection contract and processed by Biomass, both Nambucca and Bellingen Shires are considering their options.
In Bellingen’s case, one option is whether their southern neighbour could help out in a worst case scenario, to which Nambucca has responded “not at this point in time”.
The question, which was discussed at Thursday’s council meeting, is however providing food for thought in other ways with Cr Susan Jenvey suggesting the Clean Energy Committee do a report on methane capture and gas generation from regional land fill sites.
Cr Janine Reed tweeked this, saying it was standard practice for reports to be done by staff and then passed to the relevant committees. This amendment was passed unanimously.
Cr John Ainsworth said he had a real concern about taking landfill from other councils at the moment.
He foreshadowed a further amendment advising Bellingen Shire Council that “at this time Nambucca Valley Council was not in a position to accept waste from other councils at its landfill”.
“Legislation can change and we don’t want to find ourselves in a bind,” Cr Ainsworth said.
Cr Rhonda Hoban said any decisions needed to wait until the situation with the current contract was clear.
Our first priority is to manage the waste of this community … but remain open to future options for a shared arrangement
Nambucca Shire mayor Rhonda Hoban
The final motion reflected this and was passed unanimously.
Cr Ainsworth also asked the general manager, Michael Coulter, if there was any news about the arbitration* between Coffs Harbour City Council and Biomass.
*When EPA regulations changed, Biomass lodged a $32 million claim against CHCC for additional costs and loss of revenue.
Mr Coulter said the legal response to the matter was imminent.
Today, Monday, he told the Guardian News the determination had been made and that CHCC was working through the implications for itself, as well as Nambucca and Bellingen Councils.
“There has always been an inherent governance problem in the tripartite agreement,” Mr Coulter said.
“Under the contract Coffs undertook to make the Englands Rd landfill available for the life of the contract (to 2027) – and we paid fees accordingly. With the EPA changes, they now say that Englands Rd has no more capacity.
“The question put very simply is whether we are partners with Coffs or customers … we see ourselves as customers.”
He said the council would be seeking its own legal advice depending on the impact of the arbitration on Nambucca and Bellingen.
Currently the interim measure of transporting the waste to Tamworth, is being paid for by Biomass and CHCC.