Darcy Emmanuel lives 10 kilometres from the Alectown Waste Facility and he isn’t happy with the service Parkes Shire Council has been providing of late.
He’s been using the Alectown Tip for six and a half years since moving to the area, accessing the facility about every three months.
November 20 was tip day for Darcy and like usual he loaded his ute with his garbage and headed for the tip.
When he arrived this particular day, he found three other ute loads, a car with a trailer and a number of Alectown residents standing outside the facility’s locked gates.
With signs on the gates reading ‘Waste facility closed due to fire’ and ‘Alectown Waste Facility closed – access only to Alectown area residents’, Darcy and the residents had no idea why the tip was closed.
“Some locals were having a discussion about why it shouldn’t be locked,” Darcy said.
“They were not happy I tell you...I heard it had been closed for two weeks.
“There was no good complaining about it I said to them...Action was needed, not words.”
So Darcy drove home, grabbed his cordless grinder and cut open the lock so he and the other residents could access the facility like he felt they deserved to.
“I’m guilty...I should be able to come here and use the tip,” he said.
“There is a sign saying it’s closed due to fire – I heard there was a fire six months ago.
“I have been using that tip for six and a half years…We get no bin service out there, no town water, I’m on tank water and a well for the lawns.
“I don’t go to the tip very often. I might fill six wheelie bins every three months.”
Darcy said he was never notified of the closure and wanted to know why it was closed.
Parkes Shire Council general manager Kent Boyd said the Alectown landfill was closed quickly because it was becoming a popular target of large commercial, industrial and out-of-area waste dumping, exacerbated by its location close to the highway.
“The intent of the Alectown Tip is to service the needs of the local community, so unless we protect it for that purpose its capacity will be exhausted very quickly,” he said.
“We certainly apologise if it caused some individuals inconvenience, but it was to protect their facility in the longer term.”
Council notified those in the area who had registered with them regarding the closure by email and posted a number of letters.
Mr Boyd said they also worked with the Alectown Community Consultative Committee.
“We could however have easily missed some people,” he said.
“We had to take action otherwise the landfill would have been filled up quickly and we would then have to permanently close the landfill.”
Mr Boyd also said the fire sign was put in place after a fire on October 4 and has remained there.
Four keys were given to residents in Alectown that are available for local residents’ use only.
But Darcy questioned how that was feasible when he didn’t know who held the keys.
He also wanted to know when the electronic card system that council promised in the past, was coming.
Mr Boyd said it was on its way.
“As soon as we are able it is intended to install an electronic lock/access system that local residents can use,” Mr Boyd said.
“We are in the process of installing [the system] and we would encourage interested residents to register with our planning department to get a key for when that system is installed.”
At this stage the system is not intended for any other village tip besides Alectown.
“Depending on how the system works at Alectown, we may consider other locations in the future,” Mr Boyd said.
Mr Boyd said with current laws and regulations, it was becoming increasingly difficult for councils to keep smaller waste facilities open.
“Not just from a financial perspective but from an environmental and compliance perspective,” he said.
“Council is responsible – and therefore can be fined and/or prosecuted – for all operational non-compliance issues such as fires and illegal dumping into the facility. Open access facilities are hard to manage in that regards.
“PSC has several smaller village facilities that fit into the same category, we are doing what we can to ensure the Alectown facility remains open for as long as possible for the use of local residents.”
Mr Boyd said the Parkes Shire Council Waste Management Strategy 2015 was publicly exhibited and adopted in 2015.
“This document sets out council’s strategic policy position for the management of waste in the shire, including the operation of waste landfills, for the period 2015 to 2022,” he said.
“When we advertise these strategies we encourage comments, otherwise we will assume the content is satisfactory to the community.”