“I support the concept completely but it has to be relocated"

Residents of the Sloane Street historic precinct outside the return and earn depot.
Residents of the Sloane Street historic precinct outside the return and earn depot.

Residents of the Sloane Street historic precinct have called for the Return and Earn station in the Marketplace carpark to be moved to another location, citing regular noise disturbances.

Describing the truck pick up noise as an “avalanche of glass”, the group argued the station should not have been located so close to the iconic residential strip.

Rod Maberly, who lives directly behind the machines, told the Goulburn Post he is forced to pick up rubbish that has flown into his backyard everyday.

He said his three-year-old son Toby is often in tears every time glass is being loaded into the truck for pickups. 

A few doors down, owners of the Mandelson’s of Goulburn, Claire and Steve Ayling, are concerned the noise will affect their guest’s stay. 

“We’re running a business. This is a heritage guest house and the guests all hear it,” Mrs Ayling said.

The Return and Earn scheme, led by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) was announced by Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton last year and is jointly run by Woolworths TOMRA and Cleanaway.

On December 1, the Southern Highlands and Yass were chosen to host the new stations – but not Goulburn. A week later, a station had been erected and unveiled by MP Pru Goward. 

Ms Goward said she was aware of the noise issue and was seeking a solution.

“I am aware of the issue brought to my attention by Claire and Steve Ayling on behalf of community members who reside in and are operating a business in the vicinity, shortly after the program was rolled out,” she said.

“I immediately made representations to the Hon. Gabrielle Upton, Minister for the Environment, on their behalf. I want their concerns rectified and the process in question clarified.

“I am very sorry that this is happening and it’s not good enough for Woolworths TOMRA-Cleanaway system to be operating in this fashion.”

Those accessing the station are only permitted to use the machines between 7am and 10pm, however nearby residents say Cleanaway are unloading the machines as early as 6.30am.

According to the State Environment Planning Policy for container recycling equipment, a containment should not emit more that 70 decibels and be audible within any residential premises, office or adjoining lot.  

Mr Maberly has begun measuring the decibels emitted from the machines. So far he has recorded a maximum of 86 decibels. 

“It’s like putting it in the suburbs, most of us own our own homes – what’s the difference between putting it in Bradfordville?,” he said.

The group said sustainability was not the problem, it was the impact that appears to be ignored. 

“We contend that the location of the Return and Earn is not compliant with the regulation,” Mr Ayling said. 

“I can see how it happens and understand their approach to have these things near car parks and shopping centres, they just didn’t realise there was a residential precinct within 40 metres of the place.

“I support the concept completely but it has to be relocated.” 

A spokesperson for Ms Upton said TOMRA-Cleanaway is also working to ensure collection times and truck movements are appropriately managed.

Since opening in December, Goulburn’s Return and Earn machine has collected more than 330,000 containers.


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