Mayor Richie Williamson wants voters to consider having a direct say on who leads Clarence Valley Council.
Mayor Richie Williamson wants voters to consider having a direct say on who leads Clarence Valley Council. Jojo Newby

Council can't count costs of tax

BURNING waste could also mean burning money for Clarence Valley Council.

The local authority is still in limbo over the potential impact of the carbon tax and has consultants racking their brains for a solution.

The council sits painfully close to the 25,000-tonne threshold and should it go over now or in the future it will be liable to cough up cash.

At the last council meeting Mayor Richie Williamson said there was an anomaly with the present system, which meant if the council goes over the threshold next year or say, in 25 years, the carbon costs will be backdated to July this year.

Without knowing if or when the council may go over that threshold, and keeping in mind the amount of carbon emitted by waste reduces each year, only a crystal ball would help the local authority know what to charge at this stage.

"We don't know what we should be charging today to cover our risk or exposure at a point in the future," Cr Williamson said.

"It's not as simple as charging the maximum amount and why would we?"

He said he had been in communication with the parliamentary secretary for climate change, who acknowledged it was an anomaly and Cr Williamson said he was hoping to bring it up at the Shires Association meeting in Dubbo in October.

While the council's new waste system will go a long way to cutting its carbon output, deputy general manager Des Schroder said it was also considering "flaring" (burning), which converts methane to CO2.

He said if waste charges were increased to reflect the investment in that equipment, the money would be quickly recouped.

But, he said, there was some concern a change in Federal Government could lead to changes in the legislation, which could render the expenditure pointless.

A spokesman from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency said a solid waste calculator, available on the Clean Energy Regulator's website, would help the Clarence Valley Council to calculate its waste emissions.

"This will help the Clarence Valley Council to assess their potential liability and develop a pricing strategy accordingly," he said.

 

Carbon tax facts

  • The Grafton Regional Landfill does not currently exceed the 25,000-tonne CO2-e threshold but is expected to exceed this in 2014/15.
  • Council can significantly reduce landfill emissions by introducing a gas capture and flaring system.
  • A system that achieves a 50% collection efficiency (higher efficiency is likely), will reduce emissions to a level where it is anticipated that the threshold would not be exceeded until 2055.
  • Landfill gas, which is predominantly methane, is a highly potent greenhouse gas, 21 to 25 times more potent than CO2.
  • The development of a gas capture and flaring system is expected to take 12-18 months.


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