LOCAL activists and council alike have welcomed news that the state Department of Environment and Science has taken firm action on the Swanbank stench. In an unprecedented move the department has applied for a restraining order against NuGrow Ipswich Pty.
The application seeks to limit certain aspects of NuGrow’s composting operations in the Swanbank Industrial Area that the department claims have a high potential to generate odour and impact the community, including the receiving of highly odorous waste.
The odour issues arising from dumping in Swanbank are a continuing problem for locals. Campaigner Josh Addison has long felt not enough has been done about it, urging Premier Palaszczuk to “come down and get a sniff for herself”.
The council, restricted largely to planning and monitoring roles, has battled with waste operators over their desire to increase operations, spending millions in attempts to block further dumping in the area. It recently took action against NuGrow itself over alleged planning offences that included unenclosed composting.
Mayor Teresa Harding hailed the injunction. She said, “The simple fact is, that if waste companies are complying with their environmental authority, there would not be an unacceptable level of odour impacting their neighbours.”
The department believes NuGrow is not compliant with legislation and this proceeding is a result of its boosted compliance activities and a meticulous investigation in the area. The application was supported by more than 70 first-hand accounts gathered from members of the community. Given how hard it is to prove an odour offence in court, the department also engaged an independent external firm to help it investigate. Its report has also been provided to the court to support the application.
The department claims it is not stopping there with more legal proceedings possible if it finds substance in alleged breaches of the Environmental Protection Act 1994, which it is investigating.
Addison was overjoyed, saying, “We are going to take the win and celebrate this victory, and eagerly anticipate the return of clean air. Ideally, this positive change will become permanent, allowing our community to venture outdoors and literally breathe in the fresh air.”
State member for Jordan Charis Mullen hailed the community for its willingness to step up. She said,
“Thank you to all the locals who have attended community drop in events and read DES newsletter updates.”