Last night more than 120 locals attended a public meeting at the Uraidla Football Club, convened by local state member Vickie Chapman MP.
The meeting was convened as a result of the expressed concerns from the community about the new Air Quality policy introduced by the State government, this year’s NRM levy charges and an update from the State Budget on waste regulations.
After Vickie Chapman gave a brief update and called for any discussion on roads or other local issues the meeting largely concentrated on the new Air Quality policy. Neither Minister Ian Hunter or any representatives from the EPA attended, although invited. Professor Chris Daniels, Presiding Chair of the NRMB also sent an apology.
AIR QUALITY POLICY
In particular, concerns included:
The effect on responsible ‘cold burning’ by the implementation of a permit system. The capacity of Adelaide Hills Council to process and issue permits, particularly in the
weeks before fire-bans were imposed (1 December 2016). (AHC confirmed there were only three council members for the whole area).
The lack of justification to have a permit system at all, particularly as there is no current threat of air-pollution or identified and disclosed threshold that would result in intervention by the EPA.
The need for permits to be over a time period (ie 1-3 weeks) so the landholder could work with weather conditions.
The concern that wood-burning in the outdoors was restricted and the requirement to
use charcoal – completely unnecessary and unreasonable.
Lack of notice in the consultation period, including a regime of offences, resulting in substantial penalties, including Burning Without a Permit, a Category B offence, can result in a fine of up to $4000 and the Burning of Prohibited Substances, a Category A offence can result in a fine of up to $30,000.
Representatives from the Adelaide Hills Council staff provided valuable feedback on the task ahead of them and were pleased to hear from the community.
Fortunately, the requirements for permits outside townships will now not be enforced until 1 April 2018.
“At least this will give both the council and the public an opportunity to discuss this further, before these conditions are imposed by the government, via the Environment Protection Authority,” said Ms Chapman.
“At this stage there appears to be no justification for imposing the new burn-off rules and add to the bushfire hazards and risks, if land owners find it all too difficult.
“The EPA and Adelaide Hills Council say there is no fee applicable to the permit process but the time spent and expense incurred by the whole process will come at a cost and eventually we all know who will have to pay.
“How three workers at the Adelaide Hills Council can attend, inspect, process and approve and then supervise up to thousands of applications is unrealistic and the ratepayers will inevitably be left with the mess or face prosecution by the EPA if they fail to comply.
“Common sense has been thrown out the window by these changes.
“The NRM Land Levy has increased this year by 3.6%, way above the CPI and programs have been slashed by $1.5 million to accommodate Minister Hunter’s direction that planning and administration costs of his Department have to be reimbursed.
“This is a blatant cost-shifting measure and the local levy payers pay the price of the governments mismanagement of money.
“There is no increased water levy for 2016-17, which is fortunate given the outrageous increases last year.
WASTE REFORM AND COMPLIANCE
“The impact of the State government’s waste reform and compliance announcement in the State Budget, including the proposed “recording the flow of all waste material through waste facilities, enabling the collection of levy for waste that exceeds storage levels and time limits” (page 47 of the Budget Measures Statement) are yet to be detailed by the State government.
“The recording and metering of waste storage from sewerage tanks to waste water management and solid waste operators needs to be disclosed as this will impact residents, small business operators, primary producers, councils and private waste management operators,” Ms Chapman said.