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Green light for Australian Paper’s $600m EfW plant

After agreeing to tighten pollution controls, Australian Paper has been reissued a Works Approval notice for its proposed $600 million Energy from Waste (EfW) plant to be located at its Maryvale mill in the Latrobe Valley. The project was suspended earlier this year following an appeal by local environmental groups.

  Australian Paper's Maryvale mill in the Latrobe Valley

“Australian Paper is pleased to confirm that following a successful VCAT [Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal] process, EPA Victoria has issued an amended Works Approval for its Energy from Waste (EfW) proposal,” the company said in a statement.

The amended approval follows a negotiated agreement between Environment East Gippsland, Australian Paper and the EPA.

The amendment includes additional requirements for semi-continuous monitoring of dioxins and furans, and also specifies limitations to burning of wood waste. Australian Paper will need to comply with the requirements of this approval in constructing the facility and will require an EPA licence for its operation.

“It’s good to see the EPA and AP make the changes that tighten pollution controls and what can and can’t be burnt,” said Jill Redwood of Environment East Gippsland, which filed legal action against an earlier EPA decision to approve the project.

“There are still many pollution and community health issues that remain but the revised WA is at least an improvement on the original,” Redwood told Wide Format Online. “For instance, we believe their claim that the highly toxic ash waste could be used as road base across the state is an empty hope. Its safe disposal could still be a major hurdle. The other major hurdle is securing rubbish contracts with councils to provide their rubbish for decades to come.” 

Australian Paper has been working in partnership with waste management firm Suez to secure 25-year contracts with local councils for the supply of about two-thirds of Melbourne’s total household waste.

“The VCAT process has provided Australian Paper with additional stakeholder engagement opportunities and as a result of this process, we are satisfied with the fact that our Works Approval now contains more detail consistent with our application,” said David Jettner, Australian Paper GM corporate development. “With the successful issuance of an amended Works Approval, Australian Paper is able to continue working towards this potential major addition to Victoria’s waste management infrastructure.

“With the modelled closure of the Hampton Park landfill in 2025, South East Melbourne is facing a waste management crisis. Australian Paper’s EfW project would provide an important opportunity to create energy from waste currently being sent to landfill. There would also be potential to re-use ash from the facility for road base and construction applications,” said Jettner.

EfW plant
  (image: Australian Paper)

 The paper company said the plant would burn enough household rubbish to generate 225 megawatts of electricity and divert 650,000 tonnes of rubbish from landfill each year. It plans to sign contracts by early next year and begin construction later next year, with the plant scheduled to open in 2024. “The project would support about 1,000 jobs in a three-year construction phase then more than 900 ongoing, half of those in the Latrobe Valley," said the company

Australian Paper was bought in 2009 for $700m by global giant Nippon Paper Industries.