The Tarago community is welcoming a move by Goulburn Mulwaree Council to gauge wider opinion about a waste to energy proposal.
A plebiscite, survey, online petition and talks with neighbouring councils are on the table as part of what Mayor Bob Kirk says is a public awareness and information campaign about Veolia's 'Advanced Recovery Centre' proposed for the Woodlawn eco-precinct.
"I'm very pleased. It's the right thing to do," Tarago and District Progress Association Inc (TADPAI) president Adrian Ellson said of the decision.
"Personally, I don't think this technology fits into the circular economy. They (Veolia) shouldn't be pursuing it."
The Tarago community will also voice its opposition to Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman when she visits the village on Saturday.
Veolia's state significant proposal aims to thermally treat up to 380,000 tonnes of Sydney's feedstock, municipal residual, commercial and industrial waste annually and generate some 39 megawatts of electricity.
Councillors endorsed the community consultation at their meeting on Tuesday night.
It followed a meeting almost two weeks ago of "concerned community members," including Anglican Bishop of Canberra/Goulburn Dr Mark Short.
They reiterated that the facility should be built in Sydney at the waste source, "in accordance with the chief scientist's safety standard," Cr Kirk's mayoral minute stated.
Further, they argued that transporting the waste to Tarago from Sydney was contrary to the federal government's net zero emissions policy, and that there was conflicting international evidence on human, animal and biodiversity health impacts. In addition, they believed "toxic residue left after waste incineration" should not be buried in the environment.
Cr Kirk said with Veolia likely to release its environmental impact study by the end of November, it was important to alert all communities about the potential impacts.
"The information we have is that the emission flume could travel 30km or more depending on conditions and that needs to be brought to people's attention," he said.
On Friday, Yass Valley Shire Council voted to back Goulburn Mulwaree's opposition to the technology in the regions. Talks have also occurred with Queanbeyan Palerang and Upper Lachlan Shire Councils. Cr Kirk and general manager Warwick Bennett have sought similar support from the Canberra Joint Region Organisation of Councils and ACT government.
Cr Kirk said a plebiscite, which could cost $180,000, required further consideration. The community had previously suggested this but Mr Bennett believed a survey was more likely.
Consideration will also be given to an online petition to the NSW Legislative Assembly and "any other engagement process."
"The council will facilitate the information sharing," Cr Kirk said.
"The main thing is to get it out there because a lot of people are not aware of (the proposal). We have a limited timeframe."
Goulburn Mulwaree has requested a 90-day exhibition period for Veolia's EIS but there has been no commitment on this. With a federal election looming and councils going into caretaker mode, a plebiscite could be too late, the mayor said.
Deputy Mayor Peter Walker argued $180,000 for a plebiscite would be money well spent if meant a community of 30,000 people could be protected. He also welcomed talks with surrounding councils.
"Instead of giving us a mallet, it gives us a sledgehammer," he said.
Cr Andrew Banfield agreed, saying it was a national issue worthy of a plebiscite.
"They (companies) are taking waste and dumping it in the regions. They should be looking after it in their own backyard," he said.
On Friday, Goulburn Mulwaree, Parkes, Lithgow and Richmond Valley Councils have a zoom meeting with the NSW chief scientist and the EPA. The state has identified the four areas as future waste to energy precincts.
Mr Bennett said the councils had 21 questions to ask, mainly surrounding emissions from waste to energy facilities.
He is also discussing the 90-day exhibition proposal with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
But Cr Denzil Sturgiss, a Tarago district resident, said several people had mentioned to him that the debate was "all one-sided."
"How to stop it is fair enough but we haven't heard the other side of the argument," he said.
Veolia managing director and CEO Richard Kirkman previously said the company operated 65 such plants around the world and there were no health, safety or agricultural impacts. Moreover, it would be subject to stringent EPA conditions.
Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.