FARMERS are feeling relieved as council looks set to find a new site for its $5 million organic waste recycling plant.
One resident close to the West Tamworth site, on the Duri-Wallamore Rd near Old Winton Rd, said it would be “just ridiculous” to see the plant built so close to the airport.
The future of the project is uncertain with a report to considered at Tuesday night’s meeting recommending council withdraw its development application and look for a better site, which would come at a cost of $300,000.
Don George has farmed in the area for “50-odd years” and raised concerns about the potential for aircraft bird strikes when the project was being considered by the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
“There’s the black falcon, which is a type of hawk,” he said.
“They can circle all day waiting for something that might jump out of the stubble.”
Mr George said the facility, which would recycle organic waste into compost and fertiliser, would have attracted more birds to the airport.
The farmer believed the plant would find a new home in Tamworth.
“It’s a great idea to have food scraps and offal turned into compost,” he said.
“To put it that near to the runway is just ridiculous.
“I think it will [find a new home], it is a great idea.”
The decision to find a new site would come at a cost.
“Withdrawal of the current development application and lodgement of the a new future development application at an alternative site, assuming one can be found, requires the expenditure of funds (estimated at $300,000),” the council report said.
The estimate includes consultancy fees, environmental impact assessments and future development application lodgement charges.
“It is understood, current grant funds could be expended on the completion of the project (in full) on an alternative site,” the report said.
Council has pushed to lift its reputation in sustainability and general manager Paul Bennett said, late last year, the organic plant was a priority for 2018.
He said the fact council was willing to put the plant so close to airport showed confidence the project would have minimal impact on neighbouring properties.
“This is about extending the life of our landfill, but also giving us a really good product at the end of a composting-type exercise,” he said.
“I think the fact we identified we were going to put it our own backyard at the airport, given how significant the airport is to our future economic growth plans, should demonstrate to people that we are extremely confident it will be run in a way that means it won’t have any impact on surrounding properties.”
“This is a bit of a NIMBY thing, not in my backyard.
“But we’re going to put it in our backyard, right next to one of our facilities.”