Confusion delays dump clearing
IT was the result Garth Barnes wanted, but a council mix-up meant he had to wait more than a week to see an illegal dumping site on Belmont Rd cleared yesterday.
Mr Barnes, as well as a few other concerned locals, reported incidents of illegal dumping to Rockhampton Regional Council last week, but there was confusion over the local government's responsibility regarding illegal dumping after changes to state legislation.
Mr Barnes said council staff told him it was not the responsibility of the council to clean up after the Queensland Government had introduced the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act on December 1 last year.
He said he was told the matter would have to be handled by the state-run Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM).
After being referred to the DERM hotline, Mr Barnes was told that it was not their responsibility to clean up the site either, and was the council's responsibility as the site was on council land.
Frustrated, Mr Barnes contacted Councillor Glenda Mather to get to the bottom of it.
"The new act has changed the way the council can address the issue of waste management and it has caused a lot of confusion for people," Cr Mather said.
"I'd say what has occurred was probably a bit of miscommunication or misunderstanding for the staff member who has taken the call.
"They are all generally very good, but this has been a confusing situation."
Under the new act, the council does not have the legal ability to regulate or prosecute for illegal dumping as this is the responsibility of DERM under the new Act.
However, DERM will only pursue a case of illegal dumping if somebody has witnessed the illegal dumping and is prepared to sign a complaint to that effect.
Yesterday, Cr Mather was urging residents to be on the lookout for illegal dumpers.
"It is disgusting what these people are doing. The environmental problems associated with illegal dumping are immeasurable, and that is something that affects everybody in the community," she said.
"I want to see these offenders taken through the courts and punished to the full extent of the law.
"They need to know that this is wrong and they will get caught."
If you catch somebody dumping any waste illegally, call the DERM hotline on 13 74 68 or visit www.derm.qld.gov.au/waste and tell them of any relevant details, including vehicle description and number plate details.
A council spokesman said while there had been confusion a works order was lodged to remove the rubbish on Belmont Road.