SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council’s decision to introduce fees for the disposal of green waste has raised the ire of more than a few ratepayers.
Opposition to the charge of $10 per cubic metre, due to be introduced on July 1, is particularly strong in Mirboo North, where a petition has already garnered hundreds of signatures.
Bill Leech is behind the petition, which asks Council to repeal the charge for green waste for the following reasons:
- People who cannot afford the new fees will be tempted to dump the green waste in the forest, which will create fuel for fires in what is already a high risk fire area.
- “Also there will be new unwanted weeds. We need a safe and clean environment.”
- “There will be those who burn off their rubbish on their property, which can be offensive to their neighbours, and may cause embers to fly and start a fire as well.”
- “We, as a community, believe we are environmentally friendly, and don’t need extra greenhouse emissions.”
- “Many feel that the rates we pay and the fees for garbage collected are enough.”
- Mr Keech is concerned that people will stockpile their green waste, creating a health hazard with the potential to attract flies, maggots, rats and snakes.
He suspects that Mirboo North is not the only community opposed to the charge and he urges other South Gippsland communities to take action, too, and circulate their own petitions.
It is very much a case of déjà vu for Mr Keech, who led a campaign against the introduction of green waste fees the last time Council tried to introduce them, back in 2005. Again he circulated a petition, which attracted enormous support from the community, and he backed up his argument with photographs of dumped waste in the local forest.
Similar petitions were circulated around Foster and Korumburra and hundreds more signatures collected. It was enough to sway the councillors then – the decision to introduce the charge was overturned in just one week – and Mr Keech is hopeful that eight years later they will again be persuaded to back down on a decision about which the community, he says, has “grave concerns”.
He might have his work cut out for him persuading Council this time, however. At the April meeting of the cash-strapped council, all but Cr Jeanette Harding voted in favour of the introduction of the fees.
Council is currently one of very few shires which do not charge a fee and Cr Mohya Davies pointed out, “Our ratepayers are paying for waste from other shires.”
Estimates put the annual cost of managing green waste at Council’s transfer stations at $296,000. “The cost to Council is considerable; this is about introducing a user pays system,” said Cr Davies.
In addition to introducing a green waste fee from July 1, Council will introduce an annual spring amnesty period, to run from the Saturday prior to the Melbourne Cup through until the end of December, where residents can dispose of green waste free of charge. It will also provide free mulch to the public at transfer stations.