Canberra construction companies are dumping thousands of tonnes of fill just over the border in NSW to avoid the high cost of disposal in the ACT, according to the Yass council.
In December, Yass Valley Council approved the latest project - 90,000 tonnes of Canberra construction fill to be dumped on a property on Kaveneys Road near Hall.
The Kaveneys Road area is now the site of at least five similar projects.
If that amount had been disposed of in Canberra, it would have cost more than $1 million.
The project, pending approval from a NSW resource regulator, will see about 4000 truck movements on the Barton Highway over two years as they cart excavated construction material from the capital.
The clean fill is being used to fill an eroded gully on farmland at 354 Kaveneys Road, Jeir, the fifth project of its kind approved by Yass council in that area since 2014.
The projects are designed to restore eroded gullies at four properties on Kaveneys Road and one off Dog Trap Road. Together, they total 331,500 tonnes of fill.
According to the ACT government, clean fill costs $11.65 a tonne to dump in Canberra. That suggests nearly $4 million worth of fill is heading interstate instead of staying in the territory, for these five projects alone.
The Yass Valley Council is also charging the latest project $2110 as a contribution towards maintaining Kaveneys Road, as well as $16,995 for road maintenance from three of the other four projects. The fourth is exempt due to the smaller amount of fill being dumped.
A report by the council blamed ACT government fees for developers and contractors seeking permission to dump clean fill over the border.
"The issue of clean fill being transported to rural properties in the Yass Valley has been an ongoing issue for some time," the report says.
These sorts of rehabilitation projects "have come about as a result of the availability of material in the ACT and developers and contractors seeking to dispose of it without the fees that the ACT Government levy".
But the ACT government appears to have no complaint with material going interstate.
A spokeswoman for ACT City Services Minister Chris Steel said the use of clean fill for such projects was preferable to dumping it into landfill.
The property approved for the latest dump of clean fill is owned by Tamara Arnold, while the development application was made by Anthony Lore, director of Canberra-based company Capital Creative Carpentry.
The fill to be used would be sourced from Canberra construction sites managed by Mr Lore, according to council documents.
When contacted, Mr Lore was reluctant to confirm any detailsd, but said the project would help put the farm back to a useable condition.
"It's got nothing to do with developers," Mr Lore said.
The material to be dumped is described as virgin excavated natural material, which mainly consists of earth, and is excavated from building sites. It may also contain brick, concrete and other foreign matter which the Yass council will require the applicant to have inspected.
Submissions to Yass Valley Council from local residents questioned the need for the eroded gullies to be restored at all. Locals also raised concerns about the number of heavy trucks already using the road.
From September to October, a council survey counted 715 traffic movements a day, of which 298 - 42 per cent - were heavy vehicles.
Submitters' names have been redacted, but one described the project as "environmental vandalism".
"To dump tonnes of imported fill into a stable, grassed and self-regenerating gully is not rehabilitation: it is environmental vandalism," one submission read.
Submitters have also told council the Kaveneys Road is already severely degraded from previous, similar rehabilitation projects, with three of the four other projects still to be completed.
But the council said erosion control and gully filling would result in the "best environmental outcomes" and increase farm productivity, although it acknowledged the impact of increased traffic, noise and road use and said the benefit was mainly for private interests.
Tamara Arnold is the former wife of alleged drug smuggler Rohan Arnold. Mr Arnold has been a business partner of Yass Valley mayor Rowena Abbey, who is now trying to extract herself from the business relationship.
In a council meeting, Ms Abbey declared she had a conflict of interest in relation to the application.
According to council minutes, Ms Abbey said she had a "significant, non-pecuniary conflict of interest" which she believed would "preclude her from voting" because of a "previous association with the applicant" and recused herself from the chambers.