Environmental lawyers challenge EPA approval of incinerator

February 1, 2024 BY

Prospect Hill International aims to incinerate 400,000 tonnes of waste annually at proposed waste-to-energy facility in Lara. Photo: SUPPLIED


ENVIRONMENTAL lawyers are calling for government intervention to halt a proposed waste-to-energy facility in Lara.

Opponents are also fundraising to raise awareness in the community about their objections.

Prospect Hill International aims to incinerate 400,000 tonnes of waste annually at 164-200 McManus Road, Lara.

Environmental Justice Australia (EJA), who partner with community groups on environmental matters, are representing the Anti-Toxic Waste Alliance.

EJA argues the facility’s licence, granted by EPA Victoria, should have been denied due to significant health and environmental risks.

The site is less than a kilometre from Lara’s residential areas.

Colleen Hartland, president of the Anti-Toxic Waste Alliance, said the process was rushed and there were too many unknowns.

“We’re concerned this facility will expose residents to a cocktail of dangerous chemicals.

“We hoped the EPA would listen to Lara residents who said loudly and clearly that they don’t want pollution in their backyard.”

EPA director of permissioning and development Con Lolis said EPA considered all input from community and stakeholders in its assessment of the development licence application.

“Our review and assessment of this licence was based on the best available science, technical review of similar facilities around the world and application of Victoria’s Environment Protection Act 2017.

“This licence was granted with conditions because EPA has determined the proposed facility will meet the most stringent international standards and presents low and acceptable risk to human health and the environment.

“EPA will continue to regulate the site throughout the design, construction and commissioning phases to ensure the company meets all environmental performance requirements, keeps the community informed and complies with the conditions of the development licence.

“If the company fails to do so, the project will cease because the requirements imposed by EPA in the development licence have not been met.”

Prospect Hill International lists no other waste facilities or any other operations on its website beyond the Lara proposal.

A company spokesperson said several managing partners had worked with waste-to-energy technology previously, but did not elaborate.

“Prospect Hill will happily discuss our experience with the community in a collaborate and safe setting.”

The spokesperson said the company has undertaken the environmental and social assessments required by the regulatory approvals process for this project.

“The health impact assessment found the risk of potential health impacts on the community would be low to negligible.

“The issuing of the development licence is recognition by the EPA that the proposed facility will meet best practice measures and stringent environmental standards.”

Say No to Lara Big Incinerator campaign organiser Angela Carr said the present focus was on raising awareness.

“We just really want people to understand that once this incinerator is built, there’s no turning back for the community,”

To bolster their efforts and raise funds to develop and distribute educational materials, the campaign has recently launched a GoFundMe page.

Ms Carr encouraged community members to share any objections with Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny, who retains final approval for the project.

To donate to the Say No to Lara Big Incinerator campaign, head to gofund.me/E191FC06