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Monday, May 10, 2021

Summerhill a logical, sustainable and affordable solution: Nelmes

City of Newcastle has lodged a concept development application (DA) to progress construction of a new road from a road reserve at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre to the Newcastle Link Road.

It is believed the move would see up to 100 hundred trucks daily removed from suburban streets in Wallsend and Fletcher.

The proposed road has significant regional benefits, too, reducing the transport time for waste removal vehicles up to B-double and garbage trucks from neighbouring areas including Maitland by more than 30 minutes, making Summerhill a potential long-term solution for the Hunter’s domestic and commercial waste needs.

Other councils such as Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens have also recently relied on the use of the Summerhill facility and would potentially benefit from the new access point.

The Summerhill site has a landfill capacity of more than 100 years.

Other sites in Sydney and the Hunter are expected to reach capacity within the next 10 years, making Summerhill a solution to the region’s emerging problem of how to safely dispose of non-recyclable waste.

Newcastle Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the City’s waste management facility had a key role to play in the region’s move towards a circular economy and its ability to address future NSW and federal government targets on waste diversion and recycling.

“The Hunter, along with the rest of Australia, is on the cusp of a waste crisis, with our growing population and changes to national and international waste policies forcing us to significantly adapt how we manage our waste now and into the future,” she stated.

“While City of Newcastle is committed to increasing our capabilities for increasing opportunities for the recycling and reuse of waste products, we know that landfill is likely to continue to provide the only solution for a portion of the Hunter’s waste for the foreseeable future.

“Summerhill is the most logical, sustainable and affordable solution to addressing our growing waste needs.

“Creating this southern access for the site is crucial to delivering important economic, social and environmental benefits for the Newcastle community, which go well beyond waste to landfill.

“Already we are progressing an organics facility that will generate a commercial grade recycled product.

“At the same time, we are in commercial discussions with nationally known businesses keen to expand their recycling footprint in the Hunter.”  

The Summerhill Waste Management Centre was built almost three decades ago, with access that transverses the growing Wallsend area and requires travel via Minmi Road, which also provides a connection to the rapidly expanding community of Fletcher. 

The site has always included plans to connect to the Newcastle Link Road with a number of studies completed over the years identifying the need for the connection.

City of Newcastle waste manager Troy Uren said Summerhill was ideally located to act as a regional waste facility for Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Cessnock and Newcastle.

“Summerhill is the second largest and most regionally significant waste management facility in NSW with 100 years of landfill capacity,” he added.

“With the addition of our advanced organics recycling facility in 2021/2022 and our plans to establish a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at the site, it is strategically positioned to support the waste processing needs of the Hunter’s growing population and capitalise on the renewed state and federal focus on waste and recycling.

“Without a second access, however, it simply can’t become a solution to the region’s rapidly emerging landfill crisis.

“Summerhill operates from 7.30am to 5pm on weekdays and on average receives 362 vehicle movements per day, or three vehicles every five minutes.

“The natural growth of Newcastle will generate up to 436 vehicle movements per day, which equates to almost one vehicle every minute.

“Modelling shows that each three minutes additional time in a queue comes at a cost to the local economy of over $500,000 p.a. during average queuing times and around $1.1 million each year for peak periods based on the current customer arrivals.

“The concept design for our second access on the southern side of the site will cut vehicle movements at the existing entry by around 70 vehicles per day on current usage levels, and by up to 120 vehicles each day under future modelling.

“The southern entrance would also remove the majority of heavy vehicles from Newcastle’s local road network, providing a safer and more direct access point via the Newcastle Link Road and along a new proposed designated access road.”

Mr Uren said urban encroachment could become a major barrier to the southern access plans, putting the “billion-dollar road” and Summerhill’s future potential at risk.

“The second road access represents a billion-dollar benefit for the Newcastle economy over the lifetime of the site, with more efficient transport options such as B-double trucks, time saved with traffic coming off local roads and reductions in queuing, all of which deliver better customer outcomes,” he explained.

Policy background

  • CN has a desire to align with state and federal policy toward diversion and circular economy and to take a regional role with the Summerhill Waste Management Centre;
  • From January 2018, China’s National Sword policy has restricted the importation of recycled materials, affecting the global market for recyclable material. Prior to this change, Australia sent 1.25 million tonnes of recycled material to China in 2016-17 alone;
  • In December 2020 the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 was adopted by the federal government, banning the export of unprocessed waste overseas;
  • National Waste Policy – focuses on the development Material Recovery Facilities and organics diversion, with a target of 80% diversion existing in line with a focus on circular economy;
  • State Waste Strategy – the Current State Waste Strategy (2014 – 2021) has a target of 71% diversion. The state government is developing a 20-year Waste Strategy, which is anticipated to include a focus on a circular economy and an 80% diversion target.

Economic benefits

  • At current gate rate the Summerhill Waste Management Centre has landfill capacity for $6.6 billion in waste acceptance over its lifetime (not accounting for escalation of operations with organics / MRF and increase annual tonnage limits)

The new access:

  • Opens up much more efficient transport options such as B-double logistics.  
  • Saves each heavy vehicle load between 30 minutes to 40 minutes per load, saving over $174 million over a 50-year period based on current traffic alone.
  • Reduces queueing time for heavy vehicles with every three minutes in a queue at current arrival rates costing the economy over $500,000 p.a. (average) and around $1.1 million p.a. for peak periods.

Other benefits

  • Newcastle’s population is expected to grow by 21% to 202,049 by 2041. The Hunter is one of the state’s fastest growing areas and by 2041 is expected to grow by 19% to 725,000 people
  • There is a clear and proven link between increased population and increased waste output, both from the consumers and from the businesses and economic outputs that service the population
  • Our neighbouring local government areas will run out of capacity in the waste facilities over the next 10 years
  • The new access removes the majority of heavy vehicles off City of Newcastle’s local road network with more direct access to arterial state roads. Local heavy vehicles will still arrive using the current access point
  • It improves safety for the site removing the majority of interaction between heavy and light vehicle movements, as well as shorter time in/out, reduced queueing and better transport efficiencies
  • Better transport efficiencies, reduced travel time, and less queuing will not only reduce the number of vehicle movements, but will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 8000 tonnes per annum based on current approvals

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