LIVE BLOG: Howlong compost facility hearing

The Joint Regional Planning Panel hearing into the Howlong organic waste compost facility has started.

Chairman Gordon Kirkby introduces panel members, Bill Bott, Mark Grayson, Ruth Fagan and Peter Hawkins.

Mr Kirkby confirms the panel has undertaken a site inspection this morning and flags a decision might not be made today as the panel has not met as a collective to discuss the proposal.

1:28: Warwick Horsfall on behalf of Cleanaway is the first speaker. There are 62 speakers registered to speak against the compost facility. Security guards are present. Confirms odour is the biggest concern of objectors followed by traffic and transport issues.

Federation council administrator Mike Eden is not in attendance as he has a commitment in Sydney tomorrow. He will be making a statement at the conclusion of the hearing.

1:41: Mr Horsfall says the site is suitable for a compost facility due in part to its flat land and there are no homes in the immediate proximity.

1:45: Mr Horsfall says there has been “significant community interest” in the proposal. He said objections were made on a “subjective” basis and not based on expert opinion.

1:50: Albury MP Greg Aplin is in attendance.

Warwick Horsfall

Warwick Horsfall

1:56: Mr Horsfall says the Howlong site best meets Cleanaway requirements. Population of the town is also growing to the east and not to the north where the proposed site is located. Crowd member objects to his address going over the 15-minute limit.

2:01: Panel member Bill Bott says there is “enormous growth” potential to the north-east of the town and queries the impact of the compost plant proposal.

2:05: Cleanaway project manager Mathew Kiervan is the next speaker. He says the company takes the views of community “extremely seriously”. He adds support of Federation Council had been welcome.

2:15: Cleanaway consultant confirms no grease trap waste will be coming to Howlong. He says an expert engaged by company assessed Howlong as one of the “least risky” sites in his 20-plus experience. Also no major impacts on traffic or safety issues which is met with groans by the 200-plus crowd.

Howlong Community Committee chairman Stuart Sizer. Pictures: MARK JESSER

Howlong Community Committee chairman Stuart Sizer. Pictures: MARK JESSER

2:32: Howlong Community Committee chairman Stuart Sizer turn to speak. “Today marks a watershed moment for Howlong”. Committee has raised $30,000 to fight the proposal. HCC not against composting, but is against a site on the edge of town. Compost facilities visited were all away from residential areas. “Things do go wrong”. EPA has gone to unprecedented levels to assess DA. Traffic is a big issues. Trucks will converge on Howlong between 7am and 9am each weekday. Wagga facility presently being used can handle the waste generated from Albury, Wodonga, Indigo and Federation council areas. HCC offer to Cleanaway to find alternative site still stands.

2:47: Peter O’Dwyer from EDM Group speaking in support of Howlong community committee. “No dispute odour will be generated from the site.” Wagga site expansion in the wings as a result of anticipated rejection of Howlong site which wasn’t even looked at when assessing alternative locations to the failed Gerogery bid.

2:58: Updated crowd estimate close to 300, according to Howlong Golf Resort staff member. Among them is recently departed Federation Council director Adrian Butler.

3:17: Community member presentations starting with Louise Shields.

3:57: We are back. Next speaker up. Panel chairman re-affirms there is no guarantee a decision will be made tonight. Two panel members’ flights into Albury were delayed due to fog. At conclusion of speakers the panel will meet together. But an announcement one way or the other will be made tonight. Federation Council LRC members also not present, but former Corowa Shire councillors, Shields, Longmire, Wales and Bruinsma are here as is former Urana mayor Pat Bourke.

4:38: Ellen Lions lives 700m from the proposed compost site: "I’m very concerned my lifestyle and that of the Howlong community is under grave threat by the dangers posed by pollution, noise and odour generated by this facility and trucks. Drew Lane is a lane and is not suitable for the amount of heavy vehicles proposed to travel along this road. I’m also very worried about the airborne pollutants getting into my water supply. We don’t have town water. The proposal would not have got this far if we had an elected council and and not an administrator who doesn't even live in the shire.”