Approved compost facility for Port Stephens

28 March 2017

Port Stephens Gardenland has operated as a bulk store for landscaping supplies and a wholesale nursery since 2000. Subject to an approved Development Application, Gardenland will be able to process up to 10,000 tonnes of garden organics per year, as well as other approved feedstocks. 

Most of Gardenland compost goes into soil mixes, and 10-15 mm mulch and other specified mixes using the fines for rehabilitation is increasing over time. Gardenland sells its soil mixes and mulch into the retail sector, and selected landscapers are already taking large quantities of soil and mulches due to the natural growth of the Valley. Owner Laurie Bowtell says he is confident that new markets will open up because the site is now fully compliant.

The facility is on a site with Seven Mile Creek on its boundary, and within the Grahamstown Dam catchment area, which has made this a somewhat controversial project.

In November 2014 the EPA refused to issue general terms of approval for the development of a composting facility because of a lack of measures in place to adequately protect the environment and community, considering its location in a major catchment area for the Hunter region’s drinking water.

With conditions that recognise the sensitive nature of the site, the water catchment will be protected from any potential pollution caused by the composting operation. The site will adopt a higher standard than the minimum in the composting guidelines, given the location in a water supply catchment.

Port Stephens Council General Manager Wayne Wallis said he was glad to have worked with the EPA for a good environmental outcome.

The EPA has approval authority over strict conditions applied to construction and operation of the composting plant, including leachate and stormwater management and organic material storage.

The Land and Environment Court decision outlined the following strict conditions that must be met: 

  • The receiving area must be covered and all composting operations must occur under a roof

  • All outside organics and waste storage areas must be lined with a barrier of at least 600mm thickness and permeability of 10-9m/s

  • All dams with leachate from the organics and waste storage area must be lined with a composite liner with permeability of 10-9m/s and at least 900mm compacted clay. The liner must be overlaid with a flexible membrane liner.

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