Mornington Peninsula Shire is sending a three-person team to China to investigate “alternative waste facilities”.
Cr Hugh Fraser, acting chief operating officer Niall McDonagh and waste services team leader Daniel Hinson will be in China 2-9 September and report back to council within 30 days on the value of the tour and “how knowledge gained may influence the future direction of alternate waste technologies in the region and the shire”.
The trip will cost ratepayers about $7500.
The shire is a member of the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) and its team will join representatives from Greater Dandenong Council on the tour.
Cr David Gill, who voted against Cr Fraser going to China, told The News it was “because I don’t agree with councillors going on any overseas trips; I don’t see the need for any trips”.
“It’s not a necessary expense and we can find out the same information in other ways.”
Cr Fraser said on Friday that he would inspect incinerators “with power stations bolted on” while in China.
He said the ones operating in the UK were “very sophisticated carbon capture plants” used heat to drive generators which fed power into London’s power grid.
The MWRRG’s CEO Rob Millard announced at a workshop in June that it was planned to have an advanced waste treatment facility in Melbourne’s south east by 2022.
However, a report presented to the shire last Tuesday by governance manager Joe Spiteri and Mr Hinson stated, “it was also acknowledged that this time frame is ambitious”.
Their report said it was important to visit modern waste facilities in China and understand “first hand” how they functioned within a community.
Private companies “with waste to energy proposals” had told council these systems “are currently operating successfully in China”.
The officers’ report said the shire had been invited to join the tour.
The report said that in 2015, Cr Fraser, council’s delegate to the Metropolitan Local Government Waste Forum, toured the recycling plant at Smugglers Way in Wandsworth, a London suburb, and a 750,000 tonnes a year waste to energy plant in Kent.
The China study tour is seen as contributing to the shire’s five-plan to become “carbon neutral”.
It also comes just two years after Cr Fraser, the then mayor Cr Graham Pittock and the then renewable resources team leader Jessica Wingad attended the December 2015 United Nations COP21 climate change conference in Paris.
Soon after their return, the shire announced it would close the Rye tip mid-2017, a decision that was overturned in August 2016, with the tip being given a three-year reprieve.
The exact “life” of the Rye tip would depend on the establishment of an alternate waste technology, or AWT, facility.
The shire also said it would join the MWRRG in tendering for an AWT south east of Melbourne “noting the option and opportunity of locating such a facility at council’s Tyabb waste facility [in McKirdys Rd] adjacent to Western Port Highway”.