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Smells, air quality not on the nose at tip

Air quality and smell are low on the list of reasons for objecting to the expansion of the Mugga Lane tip.

Air quality and smell are low on the list of reasons for objecting to the expansion of the Mugga Lane tip. Photo: Graham Tidy

Endangered woodlands and the potential for birds in the Canberra flight path have raised more concern over the expansion of the Mugga Lane tip than have odour and air pollution.

The proposal to expand Canberra's landfill capacity at the resource management centre by about one-third - 37 hectares - has a budget of nearly $20 million over three years.

The current tip is estimated to reach capacity in two to three years.

A call for public response to the proposal and a draft environmental impact statement earlier this year yielded a range of concerns, as well as in-principle support subject to conditions. The biggest concern, raised in a number of submissions from environmental groups and community members, is the impact on critically endangered yellow-box red-gum grassy woodland.

Nearly 10 hectares would be directly impacted.

The draft EIS determined that there are "significant unavoidable impacts to box-gum woodland" and proposed an offset to land within one kilometre of the site, along the western side of Mugga Lane, to mitigate the impact of the expansion.

For Canberra Airport there is an issue with the expansion potentially attracting more birdlife.

In the flight path birdlife poses "a risk of fatalities, injuries, aircraft damage and operational delays" according to the National Airports Safeguarding Framework.

The airport's submission reminded the government of its commitment to that framework, which requires consultation with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority over changes to land use in the airport vicinity.

The airport supported the expanded facility, subject to it continuing to mitigate the risk of increasing birdlife in the area by covering waste and putting netting over any bodies of water.

While the ACT Conservation Council also supported the expansion of the facility, projected to fulfil the territory's landfill needs until 2035, it would like to see more ambitious targets in reducing landfill needs.

While applauding the ACT for having the highest national rates of recycling, at 70 per cent of waste, the Conservation Council is keen to see an overall reduction in waste generation in the capital, which has steadily increased from 1.65 tonnes per person in 2001-02 to 2.64 tonnes in 2010-11.

But while the tip has sparked numerous complaints of bad odours in the past, a topic raised again by stakeholders during the preparation of the EIS, none of the submissions expressed concerns over air quality with the proposed expansion.

An Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate spokesperson said the submissions are now being considered, but gave no timeline of when the ESDD will make a recommendation to the minister about the expansion.

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