Views on mill project heard

Existing gas-fired boilers at the Maryvale Mill would be shut down if the Energy from Waste project commences. file photograph

Existing gas-fired boilers at the Maryvale Mill would be shut down if the Energy from Waste project commences. file photograph

About 80 community members attended a community forum hosted by the Environment Protection Authority in Traralgon on Thursday night to discuss Australian Paper's proposed Energy from Waste project.

If approved, the project would convert municipal waste into an alternative energy source for the company's Maryvale Mill.

The state and federal governments are contributing to the $7.5 million feasibility study for the project, which is projected to divert about 650,000 tonnes of waste from landfill in south east Melbourne and Gippsland and turn it into energy.

EPA director of development assessments Tim Faragher said the forum aimed to help EPA staff better understand community concerns and views on the proposal so the regulator could make a decision on whether to grant the project a works approval.

"[The EPA received] 115 submissions which is a reasonable amount of interest in the proposal," he said.

"There is a wide range of views on the proposal, both support and concern, so we want to understand that more.

"We covered a whole range of topics tonight ranging from air emissions to waste composition, waste hierarchy, monitoring and best practice and what we can learn from places overseas like Europe. We saw that wide range of views in submissions as well."

Community members and organisation representatives were given the opportunity to speak during the forum and time was allocated for roundtable discussions on particular topics facilitated by EPA staff, which Mr Faragher said would be taken into account when the EPA made its decision.

There was also time allocated for a question and answer section.

The EPA has four months to make a decision.

"We'd anticipate a decision later in September but if we require further information in the process we'll gather that as we need," he said.

"We will take the time we need to make sure the decision is thorough and proper.

"The independent chair will make a report with recommendations for the EPA. [The] EPA will need to take on board those recommendations as well as what we have heard from submissions and other agencies to determine if this proposal can go ahead or not."

For more information about the EPA process or the project visit engage.vic.gov.au/epa-works-approvals/australian-paper-wa.

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