Skip to main content
  • Share:

To learn more about how the Energy from Waste facility proposes to operate, you can:

 

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

What is an Energy from Waste facility?

An Energy from Waste Facility uses thermal technology to convert waste that would otherwise go to landfill into steam which drives turbines to generate electricity.

 

What is the included in the amended development application?

The amended development application was a proposal to construct and operate an energy from waste facility that would thermally treat up to 552,500 tonnes of residual waste per year. According to the proposal, this would produce about 69 mega-watts of electricity, capable of servicing approximately 100,000 homes. Included in the proposal is associated infrastructure, such as a waste bunker, boiler house, steam turbines for electricity generation and an air emission stack.

 

Why was the applicant allowed to amend the proposal?

Clause 55 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 allows a development application to be amended or varied by the applicant at any time before an application is determined, but only with the agreement of the consent authority.

 

The development application was amended on two occasions. In its capacity as delegate of the Minister for Planning, the Department, accepted the amendments to the development application.

 

Who assessed the proposal?

The proposed is declared to be State Significant Development (SSD) as it would have a capital investment exceeding $30 million.

 

The Department has undertaken a merit-based assessment of the proposal in consultation with key stakeholders, including Blacktown City Council, Penrith Council and State government agencies such as the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and NSW Health.

 

The Department and the EPA also sought advice from independent expert consultants on human health risk assessment (EnRiskS) and international best practice waste to energy engineering (ARUP Pty Ltd).

 

What key issues did the Department consider during its assessment of the proposal?

The key issues considered by the Department in our assessment of the proposal included:

  1. Inconsistency with the EPA's Energy from Waste Policy Statement (2015)
  2. Air quality and human health risk
  3. Issues raised in submissions
  4. Public interest

 

What are the views of the EPA and NSW Health on the proposal?

As part of the assessment process, a number of questions were raised by the Department, independent experts and key government authorities, including the EPA and NSW Health. Concerns were raised regarding the consistency of the proposal with the requirements of the EPA’s Energy from Waste Policy Statement (2015) and the robustness of the applicant’s human health risk assessment.

 

Following their review of the Applicant’s Response to Submissions:

  • NSW Health has maintained its objection to the proposal throughout the assessment, as the risk to human health is unknown.
  • The EPA has maintained its view that the proposal is inconsistent with the Energy from Waste Policy Statement (2015).

 

Who are the independent experts working with the Department?

Given the complexity and technical nature of the proposal, the Department engaged the following independent experts in 2014, at the onset of the assessment process, to assist with the assessment of the proposal:

  • Environmental Risk Sciences Pty Ltd (EnRiskS)– an Australian based risk assessment consultant with extensive experience in human health risk assessment
  • ARUP Pty Ltd – an international engineering consultancy, with extensive experience dealing with energy from waste facilities in Europe

 

The Department has also worked closely with experts from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and NSW Health. The Department sought their expert advice throughout the assessment, particularly with respect to the consistency of the proposal with the requirements of the Energy from Waste Policy Statement (2015) and the robustness of the applicant's human health risk assessment.

 

What did the independent experts conclude about the proposal?

 

The experts raised concerns regarding the rigour of the applicant’s assessment against the EPA’s Energy from Waste Policy Statement (2015) and the assessment of risk to human health. The experts formally reviewed the application three times and met with the Applicant and its consultants on two occasions.

 

Despite two significant amendments to the proposal, ARUP maintains its view the proposed development is inconsistent with the Energy from Waste Policy Statement (2015). ARUP’s final review may be viewed on the Department’s major project website.

 

EnRiskS advises it is not possible to be confident the human health risk assessment is appropriate and sufficiently conservative and therefore the risk to human health is unknown. EnRiskS’s final review may be viewed on the Department’s major project website.

 

How can I read public submissions about the proposal?

All submissions received are available on the Department’s major projects website.

 

The applicant's Response to Submissions Report (RTS) addresses issues raised by the community, councils and government authorities during exhibition of the amended EIS. The RTS is also available on our major projects website.

 

What was the Department's recommendation to the Independent Planning Commission?

Based on the advice of the EPA, NSW Health and independent experts, the Department's assessment of the application concludes the proposal is inconsistent with the NSW EPA's Energy from Waste Policy Statement (2015), the air quality impacts and risk to human health are unknown and the development is not in the public interest.

 

In April 2018, the Department recommended to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) that the application be refused.

 

What was the Independent Planning Commission's determination?

The Independent Planning Commissioned announced in July 2018 that the project be refused, citing "uncertainty" over human health and environmental impacts.

 

The IPC's Statement of Reasons for Decision found:

  • the applicant’s predicted modelling was based on data that is not representative of the actual waste streams proposed to be treated at the energy from waste facility;
  • there is insufficient evidence that the pollution control technologies are capable of appropriately managing emissions from the project and would be agnostic to the composition of the project’s waste stream;
  • there is uncertainty in relation to the air quality, and the relationship between air quality impacts and water quality impacts in the locality;
  • as a result, there is uncertainty in relation to the human health risks and site suitability;
  • it is not satisfied that the project is consistent with certain objects of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979; and
  • the project is not in the public interest.

Page last updated: 04/07/2019