The 2017 Nature Conservation Council Award for the most outstanding environment group has been won by the Mountain Districts Association.
The Group Award is given annually to a Member Group of the Nature Conservation Council (NCC) that has demonstrated outstanding commitment and success in the conservation of the environment in NSW.
In presenting the award Opposition Environment spokesperson Penny Sharpe spoke about the more than two year campaign waged by the Mountain Districts Association (MDA) to have the massive landfill at Central Mangrove closed and remediated.
This campaign led to the dramatic Four Corners exposé of the waste industry aired on the ABC in early August. The Four Corners crew spent weeks interviewing members of the MDA who were researching the issue, and had film crews and helicopters on the Mountain in the lead up to the story.
The landfill site, which was originally approved to take 80,000 cubic metres of material, now contains an unapproved mountain of 800,000 cubic metres of waste and other material sitting in a watercourse that is part of the water supply for the Central Coast community of more than 300,000 people.
In 2014 the Land and Environment Court approved the dumping of a further 2.5 million cubic metres of waste and other material on the site!
A Freedom of Information search by the MDA earlier this year found that while the former Gosford City Council had allowed the operator of the landfill to exceed the original 80,000 tonnes by ten times it had, itself, contributed to the non-compliance by transferring more than 120,000 tonnes from its Woy Woy and Kincumber waste management facilities to the Central Mangrove site.
In August the MDA presented a submission to the Berejiklian State Government requesting a Commission of Inquiry into the waste facility. This submission presented documentary evidence of the statutory failures of both the Environment Protection Authority and the former Gosford City Council’s management in the regulation of this landfill.
At the first public meeting of the new Central Coast Council, on the 9th October, Council established a Mangrove Mountain and Spencer Advisory Committee to advise the Council on actions and address issues relating to the Mangrove Mountain Golf Course and (alleged) dumping at Spencer.
Mayor Jane Smith and Councillors Holstein, Marquart and Mehrtens have been confirmed as members of the Committee along with Council’s Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel. Other Councillors who wish to sit on the Committee have been invited to nominate. Community stakeholder groups will also form an important part of this advisory Committee,
Mayor Jane Smith said there was a great deal of concern in the community in relation to the serious allegations raised in the ABC Four Corners story relating to waste issues on the Central Coast and this is a great opportunity for interested members to be proactive in bringing these issues to light.
“The purpose of this Advisory Committee is to bring all the parties to the table, to assist the Council to resolve these issues in the best interests of the community and the Central Coast. The community want to see action on these issues and this is a chance for interested community members to be actively involved” Mayor Jane Smith said.