Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Statement in response to Four Corners program

Media release: 8 August 2017

The NSW Government has the strongest waste regulations in the country as well as one of the highest recycling rates compared to other states. In 2014/15, NSW residents and business recycled more than 10.4 million tonnes of waste, or about 63% of the waste generated.

NSW’s waste levy is in place to drive recycling behaviour, and reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. This funding goes back in to paying for recycling services and new infrastructure for the community, along with other government services.

Waste disposal and management is complex, encompassing multiple industries and levels of government. The proximity principle was introduced with the intention of keeping waste managed locally and to address the issues associated with interstate waste transport. It has proven challenging to enforce so the NSW EPA is leading work with its interstate counterparts to discuss national approach to waste regulation.

The EPA has a strong prosecution track record. In the past financial year, it completed 100 prosecutions with about $2.36 million in fines issued, making it a record year for financial penalties.

The EPA is actively investigating a number of sites on the Central Coast that have significant landfill activity.

The EPA was made aware of potential illegal landfilling at Spencer in December 2015 in a report from a RID Squad inspector. At this time, Central Coast Council (formerly Gosford Council) was the regulator for the site, which means the Council had full responsibility for investigation of the site.

Contrary to allegations that the EPA has been unresponsive on the Spencer site, a complex investigation is underway, gathering evidence to prosecute the alleged perpetrators. The EPA is compiling a comprehensive bank of evidence for the investigation, requiring assessment of a large volume of seized material, investigation of over 70 waste transporters, and interactions with parties known to have a violent history. The EPA is currently finalising a brief for criminal prosecution and is in court with the persons of interest.

Regarding the site at Mangrove Mountain, the EPA was not the consent authority at the time referenced in the Four Corners report. The Central Coast Council (formerly Gosford Council) was responsible for compliance with the consent. However, as a result of the EPA’s concerns regarding the site, no landfilling activity has occurred at the site since 2014.

Additionally, as a result of the EPA’s work with the community to improve the operation of the landfill, the Central Coast Council has advised the EPA that a new or modified development consent is required which mandates consultation with the community. The future size and scale of the landfill is determined by this development consent. The EPA will commission further independent advice on improved environmental controls should the landfill remain in abeyance. An independent expert review has found that the current landfill is not impacting water quality.

Illegal dumping is an abhorrent environmental crime. It leads to pollution, risks human health and leads to unsightly community spaces. Combating illegal dumping is of the highest priority for the EPA, and the EPA is working with the NSW Government to reduce illegal dumping incidents by 30 per cent in 2020.

The NSW Government has committed more than $800 million to waste management and recycling over nine years (2012—2021). From 2017 until 2021 almost $340 million will go towards recycling and waste management, including $88.5 million for resource recovery infrastructure, $57 million for household problem waste programs, including $37 million for community recycling centre collections and processing, $70 million for councils’ waste and resource recovery projects, $65 million to combat illegal dumping and $30 million for litter reduction programs.

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 08 August 2017