Hilltops Council clamps down on illegal waste

Surveillance cameras will soon be rolled-out across several notorious illegal waste dumping sites in the Hilltops Region, as Council ramps-up its efforts to avoid pollution stemming from rogue rubbish disposal.

In addition to installing security cameras, Council is planning a community-wide campaign to educate residents on the ‘dos and don’ts’ of waste removal, and is also strengthening Council’s own waste handling procedures.

Hilltops Council General Manager Anthony McMahon explained the measures will fulfil an agreement – endorsed by Council at last night’s meeting – between the Council and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), after Council unwittingly burnt prohibited material that had been disposed of at the Murrumburrah Transfer Station late last year, leading to air-pollution in the immediate area.

“There’s no getting around it; in this instance, Council did the wrong thing and quite rightly, the EPA called Council out on it,” Mr McMahon said.

“This is certainly no reflection on the newly elected Council, and it has taken nearly twelve months since the incident occurred to have the matter finalised by the EPA,” he said.

Hilltops Council Mayor Brian Ingram acknowledged that although the incident should not have occurred in the first place, Council was satisfied with the action taken and proposed moving forwards.

“Council acted swiftly to rectify the problem at the time – which the EPA has acknowledged – and has learnt from what happened, so in a win for common sense, the EPA has agreed that instead of fining Council thousands of dollars for the unintentional air-pollution, it will enter into what’s called an ‘enforceable undertaking’ with Council, which means Council can avoid the fine if it takes practical measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Mayor Ingram said.

“This is the best possible outcome, as the agreed measures will provide long-term benefits to the community as opposed to paying a fine to the regulator, that let’s face it, benefits no one.

“The security cameras are a worthy investment in the future; they’ll provide real-time information to staff in Council offices, ensuring Council’s response to any illegal activity is swift and appropriate.

“At the meeting, Councillors were taken through the steps that have already been implemented internally in terms of tightening waste handling processes and reporting lines at Council’s waste sites, to ensure this sort of thing is avoided in the future.

“Councillors were also briefed on the education campaign planned for the local community in terms of better informing residents of what materials are illegal and how to dispose of them correctly.

“We’ll certainly be monitoring the progress of these initiatives closely to ensure Council and the community do the right thing when it comes to preventing waste-related pollution,” he said.