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THE COMMUNITY'S CHANCE TO STOP MANGROVE MOUNTAIN LANDFILL

Background information on Mangrove Mountain Landfill

Mangrove Mountain Landfill sits at the highest point of the Central Coast water catchment and threatens the quality of the Central Coast water supply. The Landfill is located at the Mangrove Mountain Golf Course on the boundary between Gosford LGA and Wyong LGA. The threat comes from escaping leachate produced by the landfill that can seep into the underlying groundwater aquifer. This landfill has been getting bigger since 2001 and is currently 10 times the approved size.

The landfill has lain idle since 2014, following action in the Land and Environment Court, although there is still the matter of 800,000 cubic metres of waste sitting there without an effective lining underneath to prevent the escape of toxic leachate into the groundwater.

Scientific study has demonstrated that almost half of the stream flow in Ourimbah Creek comes from this groundwater. Central Coast Council pumps out of Ourimbah Creek into Mardi Dam. Water in Mardi Dam is shared with Mangrove Creek Dam. These are the two potable water storage facilities for the entire Central Coast.

The Mountain Districts community has been engaged for over ten years, opposing this threat to the regional water supply.

Two actions are sought. Firstly, a Special Commission of Inquiry to investigate the reasons that allowed a minor golf course remodelling project with development consent to become a regional waste management facility. Mangrove Mountain Landfill is an example of a gross failure of regulatory process and the community would like an inquiry to identify how this happened so that these sorts of things can be prevented in the future. Secondly, the community believe that Mangrove Mountain Landfill should be closed and the site remediated to eliminate the threat of leachate contaminating the Central Coast drinking water supply.

CEN will keep you updated as important developments occur.

Update 11 April 2019

The community is actively pursuing a Special Commission of Inquiry with the NSW Government and separately, the landfill operator has initiated proceedings in the Land and Environment Court (Court) to reopen the dump.

Verde Terra Pty Ltd, the landfill operator, has commenced two actions in the Court. One in August 2018 against the EPA over the environment protection licence at the site and the other in April 2019 against Central Coast Council (Council) over a new DA. Neither has yet commenced. Both are in the preliminary hearings stage.

Firstly, the landfill operator, Verde Terra Pty Ltd, applied to the EPA to have its environment protection licence (EPL 11395), renewed on the 2 August 2018, to enable it to resume operations. The licence application was refused by the EPA on the 9 August 2018, and Verde Terra lodged an appeal with the Court against this decision on or around the 15 August 2018. This is a Class 1 proceeding. If successful, this will authorise the importation of 1.318 million tonnes of new waste in addition to the existing vast waste mound.

During the preliminary hearings stage of this matter, two notices of motion were also lodged with the Court. Verde Terra requested that its application to have its licence (EPL 11395) varied, be put out for public consultation. This was ordered by the Court and you may recall that matter was put on public exhibition for submissions in November, closing on 20 December 2018. CEN posted extensive information on this website to assist members of the public to make a submission. We are advised that 397 submissions were received, which is a commendable effort and would let the Court know that this community opposed this matter and the continuation of the Landfill. At the same time, Council lodged a notice of motion seeking to join the proceedings as second respondent. The Court made orders approving this request. This action, identified as case No 2018/246174, is now Verde Terra v EPA and Central Coast Council. The substantive case has yet to commence.

Secondly, Verde Terra lodged a new development application (DA 55862/2018) with Council for the landfill site on 21 December 2018. This was the last day of Council business before the Xmas and New Year recess. The DA was described as an Integrated Development, meaning that it involved assessments by Council and other agencies. Council placed this DA out for public exhibition on 7 February 2019, closing on 14 March 2019. Almost 120 submissions were received. Council noted that in its opinion it was a Designated and Integrated Development and as such would require a new EIS to be provided by the applicant. CEN agrees with this assessment as the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act describes waste management facilities or works that are located within a drinking water catchment as designated development. It would seem that an EIS has not been received by Council and that Council has not been able to complete its assessment of DA 55862/2018. On 1 April Verde Terra lodged two notices of motion with the Court appealing the ‘deemed refusal’ of DA 55862/2018 in a Class 1 proceeding, plus a separate motion in a Class 4 proceeding.

For your information, proceedings in Class 1 involve merits review of administrative decisions of local or State government under various planning or environmental laws, while proceedings in Class 4 involve either civil enforcement or judicial review.

On 9 April 2019, a preliminary hearing was heard in Court. Verde Terra requested that the 2018 Class 1 proceedings and the two new 2019 notices of motion be listed at a later time on the same day for a range of reasons. The Court made orders setting the next hearing on the 10 May 2019.

The community fears that Verde Terra may seek to have the 2018 proceeding (2018/246174) vacated (cancelled). This could remove the EPA from the Court proceedings, leaving Council on its own to respond to the two remaining matters concerning DA 55862/2018. Both the EPA and Council have previously indicated their concerns at the potential adverse impact that the landfill may have on the drinking water supply, and each would prosecute their concerns on behalf of their respective Acts. CEN feels that this is essential. Both the renewal of the EPL and the approval of a new designated development application supported by a new EIS are equally important in any consideration of the re-opening of this landfill site by the Court.

To be kept informed:

  1. For latest updates see: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectingOurWater/
  2. Watch the ABC 4 Corners Report click here
  3. Support the call by CEN for a Central Coast Waste Strategy to ensure our environment is protected and indiscriminate dumping comes to an end.

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