A changing tide for energy from waste in NSW

10 September 2021

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) acknowledges that the NSW government, through the release of its Energy from Waste (EfW) infrastructure plan, has now provided very clear direction to the market as to where they see a place for EfW in an integrated waste and resource recovery (WARR) system in NSW.

Notably, amongst the changes captured in the plan is the condition that EfW will only be permitted in four (4) regional NSW precincts – West Lithgow, Parkes, Richmond Valley, and Southern Goulburn; industry believes it is a great pity these rules were not enunciated by government before a number of proponents spent significant money, time, and resources developing proposals outside of these areas. 

The EfW infrastructure plan comes some seven (7) years after the NSW EPA released its EfW policy, which already stipulates stringent conditions for the development of facilities in NSW, including additional requirements proposed in April 2021,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

“Industry has been engaging with the NSW EPA to ensure that in planning and developing EfW facilities, proponents meet all objectives, including and importantly, the protection of human and environmental health, as well as policy conditions. There are already several EfW facilities in the pipeline, all at different stages of the development journey across NSW, including but not limited to Western Sydney. These project proponents have invested millions of dollars as well as substantial work over many years given the well-known lengthy development approval process in NSW, only to be told that their projects are now a no-go.

“This announcement doesn’t just impact project proponents, it means future jobs supporting these projects throughout NSW have now been lost, along with the significant current and future investment in the NSW economy. It is vital that our industry has policy certainty and stability to invest in NSW to create local jobs and reduce reliance on virgin material.

“As we have said before and will say this again, this constant shifting of goal posts means NSW will haemorrhage investment to the neighbouring states. It is simply impossible to invest in NSW when the only known factor is continued regulatory and policy uncertainty.

“We simply hope that now that the government has made this decision, it will work with industry and proponents to develop pathways to deliver these facilities, given the extraordinarily lengthy approval processes that WARR facilities experience in NSW,” Ms Sloan said.