From the Newsroom

Coffs council wants to dump its rubbish in Clarence

Rodney Stevens


Mixed solid waste from the Coffs Harbour City Council area could be dumped in the Clarence Valley following a request from our southern council neighbours to dispose of up to 40,000 tonnes of waste for the next 10 years.

In a letter dated March 10, 2023, Clarence Valley Council CVC General Manager Laura Black received a formalised request from Coffs Harbour City Council CHCC General Manager Natalia Cowley to use Clarence Valley Council’s landfill for 10 years, which arose from a confidential resolution by CHCC on March 9.

“Based on current waste volume data, the City is currently managing approximately 40,000 tonnes of residual waste per annum, including both kerbside collected and self-haul waste types,” the letter says.

“The City seeks Clarence Valley Council’s formal Council consideration of the above proposal to receive 50- 100% of the City’s residual waste for a period of 10 years, including natural increase in waste volume with population growth.”

The letter also thanked CVC for their waste offer resolved on 22 September 2020, which CHCC declined, and requests CVC consider the proposal for Coffs council to access their landfill site for waste disposal, whereby:

  1. The Grafton Regional Landfill accepts from the City between 50% and 100% of the residual waste volume annually for a period of 10 years.
  2. A fee per tonne be negotiated based on actual costs and on an equitable arrangement with other users of the Landfill.
  3. A service agreement be negotiated to support the operation of this arrangement.

With an approved capacity of 3,000,000 cubic metres, the Grafton Regional Landfill on Armidale Road, Elland, began operations in 1988.

The remaining landfill capacity on December 31, 2022, of 2,163,000 cubic metres would provide a life of 50 years for the landfill at the current rate of fill, with capacity calculated at one tonne per cubic metre.

Currently, the Grafton Regional Landfill GRL operates under a licence with a maximum annual landfilling capacity of 50,000 tonnes, which council anticipates the EPA would amend if requested.

“The request for the Grafton Regional Landfill to accept between 20,000 and 40,000 tonnes of waste annually for a period of 10 years from CHCC plus growth will almost halve the anticipated life of the GRL,” the CVC April meeting agenda states.

CVC staff have a low level of confidence that the annual waste from CHCC will be 40,000 tonnes, predicting it will be more, which would be in addition to the 9,000 tonnes currently delivered from Coffs by private contractors.

To accommodate the requested volume of waste, council staff found operating hours and staff levels at the GRL would need to increase, truck movements would increase, and an additional compactor plant would need to be acquired by council at significant cost.

Under CVC’s Solid Waste Management Strategy 2020 -2027, the long-term acceptance of waste from CHCC would trigger the need for a cost benefit study and community consultation.

CVC staff state in the April agenda both operationally and strategically, acceptance of 100 per-cent of CHCC solid waste at the GRL is not advisable.

A possible partnership between councils to provide a regional waste solution to CHCC’s residual waste is also being considered by CVC.

At its March meeting, Bellingen Council adopted a Mayoral Minute recommending:

“That in consultation and possible partnership with Nambucca Valley Council, Bellingen Shire Council seek a meeting or meetings with nearby Councils (Port Macquarie-Hastings, Kempsey Shire, Nambucca Valley, City of Coffs harbour, and Clarence Valley Council), either individually or in groups, to discuss potential options for waste processing and disposal arrangements post early 2027 when the current Coffs Waste contracts are due to expire,” the CVC April meeting agenda states.

“Further that Council continues to work with Mid North Coast Joint Organisation MNCJO of councils and Midwaste to progress a regional solution to the future waste arrangements and a Circular Economy.”

At the April 18 CVC meeting, councillors will vote on the officer’s recommendation that council:

“Defer any decision on the request by Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) to accept solid waste at the Grafton Regional Landfill from CHCC until the outcome of the meetings proposed by Bellingen Shire Council for a regional waste solution are known.”

The Independent will report on the result of vote in the April 26 edition.