After 31 years, West Belconnen’s green waste drop-off facility will close at the end of this month. The ACT Government will not renew Canberra Sand and Gravel’s Parkwood Road lease, which expires this month. Instead, the site will be turned into a park as part of the Ginninderry development.
People living nearby are dismayed, and other political parties have called on the government to intervene.
The ACT Government has been in discussions with Canberra Sand and Gravel about the future of its Parkwood site for years as part of planning for the Ginninderry suburbs, a spokesperson said. The Ginninderry Joint Venture (the government’s partnership with Riverview Developments on behalf of Corkhill Brothers) plans to redevelop the block into open public space with parkland and sports fields.
With the facility set to close, the government recommends that residents can either use their green bins or other centres.
All ACT households, including Belconnen, can register for a 240-litre green bin, collected fortnightly; the program has collected 44,000 tonnes of organic waste across the Territory since 2018. Residents can also drop off green waste through Corkhill Brothers at Mugga Lane (free of charge); at Canberra Sand and Gravel in Vicars Street, Mitchell (fees apply); or at Weilwun Landscape Supplies on Morisset Road, Mitchell (fees apply).
Residents are not pleased.
“This is an incredibly disappointing outcome,” one man wrote on Facebook. “What the blazes are the ACT Government playing at? How is it reasonable to be limited to one 250L bin once a fortnight or lug green waste halfway across Canberra to Mugga Lane? I can only imagine the amount of branches/clippings etc that will be strewn down the Parkway and Monaro Highway on the weekends.”
“Boo! Our green waste won’t all fit in the green bins,” a woman wrote on Facebook. “Mugga Lane is too far to drive with a loaded trailer for people in Belconnen and Gungahlin. Ridiculous!”
Some complained that small business owners in north Canberra would take on extra costs thanks to the ACT Government.
Making West Belconnen residents “burn more fuel running the extra half hour there and half [hour] back” was bad policy for a green government, another wrote.
Canberra Liberal MLAs Elizabeth Kikkert and Peter Cain stated that the Mitchell facility was at 90% capacity, and could not handle an influx of traffic, while Mugga Lane was a 50km round trip from Belconnen. Forcing operators to drive elsewhere would cause an extra 100,000km worth of emissions each month, they claimed.
Others on Facebook said that the government wanted the land for development, and speculated that more businesses might be closed.
The Canberra Liberals have urged the ACT Government to help Canberra Sand and Gravel relocate within West Belconnen.
“Rather than continuing to ignore the issue of green waste capacity in Belconnen, this Labor-Greens Government needs to listen to operators and work with the community to provide a solution for green waste in Belconnen,” Mr Cain said.
Meanwhile, the Belco Party have called on Greens Ginninderra MLA Jo Clay to stop the closure or to build a similar waste recycling centre nearby. Last year, former Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur tabled the Belco Party’s petition, signed by almost 900 Belconnen residents, to keep the facility open, or to set up a new facility in Belconnen, party member Alan Tutt noted.
“By tabling the petition for us, I expected the Greens members of the government to be in favour of keeping the facility,” Mr Tutt said. “Surely recycling garden waste is something you’d think the Greens would support.”
The ACT Government have said they are investigating a longer-term solution for green waste for Belconnen and North Canberra. This could include accepting green waste at the Mitchell Resource Management Centre or building a new site in North or North/West Canberra.
Ms Clay responded: “The government is reviewing waste facilities across Canberra to see whether they meet the needs of our growing community, particularly in West Belconnen. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of that review.”
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