DUMPING GROUND: Just some of the rubbish being dumped illegally in the Sapphire area.
DUMPING GROUND: Just some of the rubbish being dumped illegally in the Sapphire area. Contributed

New rules rubbished

THE war against waste may soon take a hit in our region following a recent State Government announcement.

Commencing July 1, all waste going to landfill in Queensland will incur a levy rate (conditions apply).

The cost of this levy is passed on to landfill operators, which in the Central Highlands is Central Highlands Regional Council.

In a bid to combat these new charges, CHRC recently announced reduced operating hours across its regional waste facilities - a decision that has sparked outrage in the region.

However, Central Highlands Mayor Kerry Hayes said these changes were necessary to meet the council's obligations under the new levy.

"To avoid financial impact on domestic waste by the levy, council needs to ensure that businesses meet their requirements to pay the levy when disposing of waste,” he said.

"To achieve this degree of control, our waste facilities need to be staffed and this is where we need to manage resources - staffing all of council's 18 waste facilities full time simply is not viable.”

For long-time Sapphire resident Kelly Corbishley, implementing one response measure without consultation simply isn't good enough.

Sapphire resident Kelly Corbishley.
CH resident Kelly Corbishley. Taylor Battersby

Under CHRC's proposal, Sapphire's tip hours will be reduced from six days a week to Monday, Saturday and Sunday from 8am-noon.

These proposed hours are still under review by the council.

"I just don't see how it's going to work. If people work funny hours and funny days, how are they going to get their waste to the tip?” Mrs Corbishley said.

"I just have these awful visions in my head of regional Queensland turning into a big tip.”

While Mrs Corbishley said she understood local governments had been placed in a difficult position by the State Government, she believed the council's reaction had been "knee-jerk”.

"I don't feel they've put a lot of thought into it. I think that's what I'm really angry about - council (said) 'this is what we're doing, you as people deal with it',” MrsCorbishley said.

"It's kind of like, well, how do we change our behaviours in such a short amount of time?

"Other alternatives should have been discussed with communities.”

Mrs Corbishley said illegal dumping was already an issue with the current tip hours.

"My husband and I have been out in the bush a lot and it used to just be a lot of car bodies but now you see a lot of general household waste,” she said.

"There's actually a spot just down the road from the tip and my place and I've noticed that people are adding to it just in the last week.”

However, Mrs Corbishley said she believed illegal dumping occurred in part due to a lack of waste education.

"I remember years ago being at school and you'd walk past a piece of rubbish and a teacher would tell you to pick it up and you'd pick it up,” she said.

"You then took that (attitude) with you out onto the streets, whereas now kids aren't asked to pick up rubbish.

"Parents are kind of like 'don't touch that, that's germy'. So I'm wondering if that's where it needs to start - educating the children and then educating the parents.”

In a bid to help tackle the issue herself, Mrs Corbishley has begun working on what she calls the 'Love Where You Live' campaign, which will aim to encourage community members to start up a weekly clean-up of their towns.

"(I) just want to bring community awareness to (illegal dumping). We need to change our mentality around waste,” MrsCorbishley said.

"Years and years and years ago, I remember there was a sign as you drive into Emerald and it said 'Tidy Town winner' for so many years in a row. I've just been noticing over the years there's less and less pride.”

According to CHRC, community consultation surrounding proposed new dumping hours is still taking place.

"We will continue to publish information via our social media channels, news outlets and council's website, including further information sessions commencing in June, and I encourage people to attend,” Cr Hayes said.

To find out more about the Love Where You Live campaign, visit the 'Clean Up Gemfields' Facebook page.

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