Gunnedah Shire Council implement $20,000 environment project for alleged waste offences

Gunnedah Shire Council has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) following alleged waste offences dating back to 2016.

The alleged offences relate to the unlawful transport of waste and the use of a site at Alford Road, adjacent to the Oxley Highway, as a waste facility without lawful authority. Council will pay $19,740 to fund environmental works following the alleged waste offences. Council has also committed to pay $5,000 to Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group to use at its discretion, and $3,000 to the Environment Protection Authority to cover legal costs.

Enforceable Undertakings are a tool that the EPA can use as an alternative to prosecution. Through an enforceable undertaking, the EPA may secure outcomes such as environmental restoration measures or contributions to environmental projects. The undertaking is enforceable by the Land and Environment Court.

EPA Director North Adam Gilligan said EPA officers first inspected the location after being contacted by Fire and Rescue NSW following a fire at the site.

“EPA officers inspected the site of the fire, which is a Crown Reserve for Public Recreation, and determined the site was being used as a waste facility,” Mr Gilligan said.

“Investigations found the land was being used to dispose of green waste and excavated material from water and sewer works, and that road sealing materials were being stored incorrectly.”

As part of the requirement to fund environmental works, Gunnedah Shire Council will contribute $19,740 to Gunnedah Urban Landscape Group (GULG) for the implementation of the Wandobah Reserve Activation Project.

The project includes the planting of 150 native tree seedlings in the project’s reserve, inserting tree guards and stakes, care and maintenance of seedlings, installation of nest boxes in the reserve to promote native bird/mammal nesting and the installation of cameras to deter illegal dumping on the site.

Mr Gilligan said Council had acknowledged genuine contrition and taken responsibility for the incident. 

“The Council has taken appropriate measures since the investigation commenced to amend its procedures and clean-up the site, and in this instance, the EPA considers the Enforceable Undertaking as the appropriate regulatory response,” Mr Gilligan said.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm.