Spotlight on illegal dumping: council says 'know the rules'

Waste material being burnt in a semi residential area of Young. Photo: Hilltops Council
Waste material being burnt in a semi residential area of Young. Photo: Hilltops Council

A seven dollar tip fee could have saved one Hilltops resident an administrative fee of $577 plus the costs of employing a professional excavation company to clean up their property.

Council was recently alerted to a large volume of waste material being burnt in a semi residential area of Young and attended the location to investigate.

Upon entering the property it was discovered that the owners of the property had been filling a gully with household and general waste for a number of months, resulting in a large amount of plastics, cardboard, tyres, electrical and white goods being stored illegally on the property.

To remove the waste materials the owners set fire to the waste.

This resulted in toxic fumes and smoke being released which then drifted to nearby houses placing residents at risk of inhaling potentially toxic smoke.

Additionally, as a result of the burning materials and plastics, chemicals and other leachates were created which entered the soil of the property and create the risk of seeping into the ground water and other waterways putting community members at risk.

Hilltops general manager Anthony O'Reilly is concerned about the behaviour and cautions residents and businesses that council will not hesitate to issue fines to those doing the wrong thing.

"In this case, a large amount of the material burnt could have been recycled free of charge at one of our waste facilities. The non-recyclables could have been disposed of at the same facility for minimal cost," he said.

"Waste disposal methods and regulations have changed over the years and it is the responsibility of each resident to know the rules and follow them. Within the Hilltops region there are dozens, if not hundreds of illegal "tips" leaching potentially toxic chemicals into the environment.

"The fine for illegally using land as a waste facility is now $4000 for an individual and $8000 for a company. In this instance the land holders received a notice to clean up the property with an administrative fee of $577, and if they do not comply with the notice within the timeframes given fines will be issued with further notices to comply, and possible court action."

In 2014, the ACT/NSW Cross Border Illegal Waste Dumping Action Project was launched to reduce illegal dumping across the region.

A project officer based in Canberra and working with Hilltops Council is coordinating the effort to reduce the incidence of illegal waste dumping and to identify and penalise those responsible.

Members of the public can now report illegal dumping through RIDonline. When a report is submitted, the NSW Environmental Protection Agency alerts council to the incident for clean up and further action.