Magnetic Island North Queensland
  Phone 0427 398 838 Wednesday 23rd o May 2018 on Magnetic Island  
A young koala's beach adventure

November 12th 2010
Cockle waste site will threaten rare plants and animals

What about me? A vulnerable single striped delma found at Cockle Bay Last Saturday a petition, reported to have contained about 300 signatures, was presented to Cr Trevor Roberts at a meeting of the Magnetic Island Residents and Ratepayers Association (MIRRA). While Magnetic Times was, unfortunately, unable to attend, the message seemed clear enough, that Picnic Bay residents in particular, are not in favour of the proposed location of the new waste transfer station at the current green waste dump in Picnic Bay and were pushing to have it relocated to a council-owned bush block at Cockle Bay.

The petitioners were apparently keen to show Cr Roberts that he would do well to take heed of their protest and indeed Cr Roberts is now proposing a motion to council which would:

* Provide a report that assesses potential locations for the proposed Magnetic Island Waste Transfer Station;
*Develop a community consultation plan to engage the community on the outcomes of the assessment report, and;
*Defer any recommendation from staff on the proposed location of the Magnetic Island Transfer station until such time that community consultation has been completed.

For some the move to Cockle may seem a simple solution. But, on closer inspection, a very different story emerges. This particular block is an important refuge for animals and plants which are officially listed as either rare, vulnerable, critically endangered and in some cases found only on Magnetic Island.

A view across the Cockle land

Few of us would be personally familiar with a single striped delma (legless lizard) or the bare rumped sheathtailed bat or Sadliers skink for example. They are not cuddly as the koala this writer spotted fast asleep in a poplar gum at that block this week. But itís increasingly the case that the only real future these animals and plants have lies with us humans and how we manage the Island we all claim to love.

And, inconvenient or not, Magnetic Islandís unique World heritage values are protected by the Commonwealth. In a document Magnetic Times reviewed recently (click here) the Commonwealth Government has identified a range of the animals, plants, vegetation types and other attributes which make Magnetic World Heritage and worth protection under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC). Unsurprisingly, the Cockle block is home or habitat to many like those mentioned above.

For Council to seriously attempt to develop the Cockle block would, no doubt, require Commonwealth approval under the EPBC Act and, with the very species which Commonwealth law is there to protect occurring at Cockle, the hoops will be many, high and narrow for Council to jump through.

The only other option: Nelly Bayís old sewerage irrigation area on Kelly Street, which has many more houses nearby, seems unlikely to garner support even though it is far more central and closer to the barge.

We might instead all do better to thoroughly investigate just how well transfer stations can be managed these days. Perceptions of them as smelly and unhygienic are hard to overcome but it is useful to know that the proposed new transfer station will be equipped with, among other things, automatic odor suppressant sprays which will activate regularly throughout the day. As it is simply a transfer station and not a dump, rubbish will be removed, three times per week to the mainland. Even Cr Hill, we hear, commented to the effect (and backed by an ex Victorian member of the community) that transfer stations do not smell and are not obtrusive, and can be well camouflaged.

A potentially more annoying problem for Picnic is the noise generated by the green waste mulching machine. Councilís waste managers maintain that the mulch piles themselves can be used effectively as a sound barrier and if relocated onto the hill created by the present tip and the machinery set well into a bowl created by the mulch itself, the sound should be significantly reduced.

It also seems puzzling that the call for a move to the Cockle Bay site would lead to much more truck movements as well as the whole of Magneticís weekend procession of cars heading for the dump now driving through a number of Picnicís quiet residential streets.

The call for a relocation of the transfer station, while understandable, seems, more than anything, a futile exercise. Council cannot expect the Commonwealth to cave in over an important habitat for vulnerable and endangered species and nor should it. The extra cost of this exercise would surely be better spent at the present sites and focussing on the very best means of minimising the impacts of these necessary facilities, such as maximising noise abatement measures and removing any likelihood of pollution leaching from the old tip site.

For an historical insight into the political manoeuvrings over this land and for detailed information about the plants and animals at risk if the Cockle Bay land were to be developed, we recommend our story: "Bush valley rezoned for industry" (click here)

George Hirst
Striped delma photograph courtesy Eric Vanderduys

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Cockle waste site will threaten rare plants and animals
David Pierce
November 12th 2010
The Nelly Bay site is unpopular due to the very close proximity of residences as you point out. It is therefore an unacceptable option for me because I live in one of the homes that abut the council holding.

I appreciate the desire to protect flora and fauna, and I agree that species should be protected. However with the same passion that you choose to protect those animals, I shall protect my future. I will contest and if necessary fight any moves to have Nelly Bay as the site.

If the evaluation is to determine the best location based on certain specific economic, environmental and social (and governance) criteria, Nelly Bay is very unlikely to be the preferred option. Neither do I think Cockle Bay will hold up as a viable option. I don't think the animals' interests or my interests will be supported by altruism but the hard rationalism of politics and economics.

I have seen and used waste transfer stations. They are much less obnoxious than a dump but they are still handle refuse. They may be more aesthetically constructed and be state of the art, however refuse processing is a light industrial function that should only be placed in an residential area as a last resort. Perhaps that great big hole in the marina precinct has a possible renewed lease on life as the WTS! It's even closer to the barge, and access for garbage trucks is much easier ... Nothing wrong with thinking broadly about this issue.

I think we have different paths we wish to follow. What we both can agree on is what we don't want. How can we as a community work together to get that outcome that is acceptable? We need to open our thinking, identify points of accord and build on what we can agree on. This is not parliament, God forbid we ever plumb those depths. This is not a matter of 'winning' or doing the other lot over - this is an opportunity to work as a community for the good of the Island and all its occupants.
Col Foley
November 12th 2010
I suspect that your opinion and story has more to do with you living at Cockle Bay than conservation fact.
Had you been at the MIRRA meeting you might know what the important facts are. For your elucidation, I'll explain them.
Only approx 10% of the 13.81 Ha council-owned site we propose would be needed. You acknowledge that the WTS is unobtrusive, so I'm sure your allegedly endangered creatures could happily co-exist on the other 90%.
The Picnic Bay site has at least 13 metres of fill on it. Unstable land, unsuitable for construction of a site for trucks and heavy machinery.
Access to it would be by a new road and a bridge. A bridge will cost a lot more than upgrading a short stretch of West Point Road. We pay enough in rates to be entitled to ensure they are not wasted.
All manner of buses and other trucks already go over the Picnic hill and always will. Another 18 movements per week is insignificant.
The total number of houses to be passed by any new traffic is far less than the number that will continue to be disadvantaged by the Picnic Bay option. About 18 as opposed to 300.
I suggest you attend the next MIRRA meeting at 10 am on Sat December 4th and speak to people who have very good knowledge of ALL the pros and cons and see this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the Island's waste out of a residential area, after 30 years of suffering.


Col Foley
George Hirst
November 12th 2010
Thanks for the contribution Col but if it's facts you want to put then your case would be more credible if the first one you assert was right. I don't and never have lived at Cockle Bay but, these days, about 3.25kms away from Cockle as the crow flies towards West Point. George Hirst, Ed
November 12th 2010
Great article George but I have to say that I too read a little of your spin into it - that's ok though.

Oh Maggie Islanders when the hell are we gonna wake up and start embrassing change and working with the powers that be to put our concerns into a forum where they may shape afforesaid change! The green waste site is a done deal I'm afraid, with TCC rate payers already committed to the site to the tune of well over $2M in early works and design - even if it doesn't go ahead! Full design has been completed and the project is out to tender - you will not stop it, you've missed your mark! Calm down folks and rather than form various action committees opposing absolutely everything, offer your services to such projects under the banner of "community consultation" or "environmental logistics" for example. Local government are always accountable and to have such groups "on side" rather than just another anti everything bunch of "Maggie whingers" and "action committees" making fools of themselves and avoiding at all costs anything proactive can only help our cause over here. Give TCC a call and offer your services free of charge and see what they say? They have to listen if you do it rite.

I for one look forward to this project setting sail as forecast in March 2011. Delays associated with futile public protest will undoubtedley have huge financial ramifications for all of us rate payers.

Get over it, get on with the job in hand,

George Hirst
November 12th 2010
Ta Huey, In case you didnt notice (the section header isn't so clear on this site) but the article was actually an editorial so call it spin if you like but I was trying to put a reasonable and informative opinion this time - not just straight reporting.
November 12th 2010
Go Huey!!! I,ve had it with the whingers too.

Victoria Walker
November 12th 2010
Well, that is a disturbing article,George.
I can see all sides of the story - but I feel particularly sad when I see the bush gobbled up to make way for human needs. I am naive, as I imagined there was a clear area already that would be suitable at Cockle Bay. Thank you for the information.
One disturbing piece of info jumped out at me. You quote: "automatic odor suppressant sprays which will activate regularly throughout the day."
Surely these are toxic. I have an image of this miasma(in more ways than one),drifting across the bay being breathed in by all living things! Can you tell us more about these sprays?

Cameron Walker
November 12th 2010
I agree with Col, apart from his mistake regarding George's residence.
What environmental issues do or did the 100 dumped cars create? Most of the garden waste is dumped on the West Point road.No,Huey,the cost will most likely be less next to the treatment plant because they won't have to pile through unstable ground to achieve the necessary result.
November 12th 2010
It might help non-MIRRA meeting attending residents (I'm one of them) to know that no wheelie bin waste will ever be taken to the transfer station - wherever it is located. Under the new arrangements, when wheelie bin waste is picked up from the street in the normal garbage run it will be taken in the compactor truck onto the barge directly to Townsville. The only stuff going to the transfer station is what residents and businesses take there themselves. There should be minimal putrescent waste.
Also, regardless of where the transfer station is located the landfill site at Picnic Bay, on both sides of Butler Creek, will have to undergo major rehabilitation before it can be 'retired'. There is no way that Council or the state government can just walk away from the long term remediation that is now urgently required there. The newly proposed access with bridge or causeway (I haven't seen any drawings) would appear to be located along the toe of the landfill mound - at just the place where long term access for monitoring and management of seepage from the landfill could be conducted. In other words, since monitoring, remediation and possibly revegetation are mandated for the whole site at Picnic Bay why not plan to integrate the new facility into the works that have to take place there anyway? And with an access that disturbs the absolute minimum of residences.
November 13th 2010
It really depresses me that, even in the 21st century when there are 7 billion of us, when humans have a problem nature is still the one to pay.
November 14th 2010
Yes Rob u r one of the whingers those people complain about.I would prefer to call u, and any others like ourselves as enlightened,but they will learn one day, that exploiting nature in a harmful way is counter productive and ultimately to the detriment of human existence as well.
November 14th 2010
Having been a frequent user of an Sydney inner city waste-transfer facility, I am confident that many Islanders engaged in this debate greatly over-estimate the inconvenience/detriment a well-managed facility creates.

I refer to the Leichhardt Council facility, which readers can view at,151.16501&z=19&t=h&hl=en One can see here for onself that this facility, which services the entire municipality - over 50,000 -, is centred in a small industrial precinct but is only one premises separate from residential blocks. I have not known this proximity to be a source of complaint in this community though it is very vocal with its complaints whenever they arise.

That said, I am fully supportive of Picnic residents who don't want it there. They have put up with the stench of the dump for decades and they deserve a break.

For me it seems a no-brainer to be taking rubbish over the hill to Picnic and then to be taking it back again. Traffic on the roads over the hills are the big problem for the Island and to be requiring heavy trucks to be traversing the hill to Picnic when that can be avoided is irresponsible. There would seem to be suitable sites in the industrial section of Kelly Street, Nelly Bay and in my estimation this is clearly the best site.
wendy Tubman
November 16th 2010
Thanks for the article and information George. It seems from the responses that no one is really out to shoot the messenger in a big way, but, inevitably, it will be a somewhat controversial issue. Best that we all have the opportunity to be involved in an informed discussion. I find Rolf's argument persuasive - and I live in Nelly Bay!

But given that the whole of Magnetic Island is World Heritage would it be too much to ask that ALL the waste is transferred off the Island? Of course, this would require a short-term 'holding station' but if removal of the type of waste mentioned by Charlie was reasonably frequent, the site would not be huge. And we should consider residents having to pay to have waste removed (although I realise that this could lead to illegal dumping).
November 16th 2010
Interestingly, residents already pay to have waste removed - but we get given free vouchers every year so that even this tiny impost is made painless. Despite this, some residents still expect the landfill site and separate green waste processing area to be kept open for them at all hours of the day and night - and if the gates are closed or they've forgotten (or never possessed) a voucher, some will go to great lengths to avoid paying five lousy bucks to have their ute or trailer load of domestic crap taken care of. It regularly happens right next to the Golf Club.
We've had a free-for-all on the Island for a hundred years with a landfill site we now have to pay to monitor, maintain and keep safe in perpetuity - just like all the other enormous landfill sites on low lying land in the middle of Townsville. Town High, the Civic Theatre and the Reid Park V8 racetrack are almost entirely located on a mangrove estuary landfilled with garbage and now thinly covered.
At the moment on the Island we have it nearly-free-for-nearly-everyone-nearly-all-the-time and soon we'll have about the same deal as nearly everyone else in Townsville - if you want to get rid of unwanted domestic stuff you'll take it to the transfer station, pay a few lousy bucks to separate it into the appropriate bins and everything will be taken care of for you - it's a pretty good deal.
If you still want to dump your car or garbage on someone else's land then you can expect that the computer collector will trail around after you for ages and you'll just have to accept whatever administrative consequences eventually catch up with you.
November 19th 2010
The dump should just stay where it is. The thought of spoiling a perfectly nice bit of bush for a transfer station is just absurd!

What do you think? Send us your comments.

Readers comments
FROM cp_articles
[ read more ]
The poll
Should Magnetic Island commission a sculpture to celebrate the achievements of Julian Assange?
98%       2%
Great idea No thanks

Cypress created this page in 0.04 seconds