Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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HomeIssue 15Illegal dumpers despoil Alice hills

Illegal dumpers despoil Alice hills

By ERWIN CHLANDA

A nationally acclaimed painter and writer whose books and canvasses feature the hills east of Alice Springs is outraged about the way locals are treating this picturesque landscape.

Rod Moss has photographed 25 sites where household and construction rubbish has been dumped, and given the photos to the News.

We passed them to the Town Council which has forwarded them to the NT Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics (DIPL).

There is a question about which authority is responsible for prosecution of offenders and control of rubbish disposal if it is inside or outside the municipality, respectively, and if it is on Crown Land inside the municipality.

Says Mr Moss: “For 15 or more years I’ve been roaming these tracks sourcing cans and bottles to recycle and supplement Basic Card monies for campers at Whitegate.”

These people are the subject of the book for which Mr Moss received Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s award for non-fiction in 2011, The Hard Light of Day.

He says: “Drinking camps have long been popular in the naturally formed valley cul-de-sacs. So too have stolen cars been dumped and incinerated, one of mine amongst them.

“I’ve not seen anything like the rubbish people have been dumping on these tracks during the last 18 months.

“The ‘green shirts’ from Correctional Services used to do a bit of a clean up. But it’d take one almighty sweep to contend with the present unsightly mess. And on the Queen’s Land too!”

We asked the council yesterday: “What will you be doing about this? Why has so much rubbish been allowed to accumulate? Has anyone been prosecuted?”

We asked the department at 3pm yesterday: “What will you do about a report of dumped rubbish east of Alice Springs referred to your department by the Alice Springs Town Council today.” We expect to receive a reply on Monday.

A spokesman for the council says it has invited the NT Government “to partner in developing a pilot strategy for the management of illegal waste in the Alice Springs area”.

15 COMMENTS

  1. One needs to look no further than the fees the council charges to explain this.

    Disposal of general waste – Commercial – per tonne $130.35
    Disposal of clean fill & rocks > 20cm / demolition / concrete (per ton) $130.35
    Disposal of green waste – Commercial – fee per tonne $64.90
    Disposal of small truck tyres – fee per tyre $50.00
    Disposal of car and motor cycle tyres $33.50
    Disposal of asbestos/contaminants $303.90
    It’s common practice to either dump in the foothills or hide asbestos and other dangerous materials in a load of rubbish to avoid the high changes.

  2. The rubbish in the first photo would only cost $20 at the most at the tip.
    The scale of rubbish dumped around Alice is truly disgusting.

  3. I agree that fees are much too high. Of course they will be dumped. What is happening at the claypans is an absolute travesty. Although I too pick up cans etc I will not do the council’s work for them. They know they need to fence off these areas but won’t do it. So much camping, fires, chopping down of trees, rubbish, dumped cars.

  4. I take my dog out East of Alice for daily walks and am shocked by the rubbish that is continually dumped.

  5. @ Watchn: The concrete in the second pic would cost $130 to dispose of at the dump.
    The cost to ratepayers to pick it up and take it to the dump would be five times that.

  6. Rod, thanks for raising this … also to others for corroborating.
    Jon raises an important point, namely significant landfill charges levied by the Alice Springs Town Council.
    From memory a dead mattress costs $30 to jettison, a not insignificant amount of money for most of us. Some councils take old and soiled mattresses, cleverly restore and refurbish them – thereby creating casual employment and expanding the goods on offer at the tipshop.
    The ASTC piles up the mattresses and burns them. Our council is keen to charge significant fees but slow to clean up the consequent dumping of its actions.
    True to form, they will cost shift to NT Government wherever possible.
    Buckpassing to and fro is an Alice Springs tradition. I find it incredulous that neither ASTC or NTG appear to be using remote camera technology to record dumpers and prosecute.

  7. The Region­al Waste Man­age­ment Facil­i­ty is locat­ed on Com­mon­age Road. Open 8am to 4pm, 7 days. Maybe the opening hours do not suit everybody.

  8. It would be interesting to analyse the cost / benefits of lowering the fees.
    For example, would halving high cost fees save ratepayers money because less concrete etc would be dumped in the foothills and the very high removal costs would be much lower?
    Unfortunately, this would take council acknowledgment that dumped rubbish is their problem and not the NT Government’s.
    Currently, this is a standoff with the budget plan being to engage with stakeholders i.e. slug it out with the NTG.
    The Council / NTG relationship is so damaged that this is another dispute they will probably not win.
    Meanwhile, dumping in the foothills will continue.

  9. Perhaps the council could have a clean up day whereby people put out items on the edge of their nature strips like councils do down south. But I guess this council is just interested in sprucing up the mall and other rubbish but not concerned about their citizens. Not everyone has a trailer or ute.

  10. @ David: Your sentence “… but not concerned about their citizens” says it all.

  11. To me it is rather clear: Rubbish collection and disposal is the responsibility of Local Government. Not for Darwin to solve the current local issue.
    The disposal rates now charged are much too high for most of us. Collection of disposable material on the kerb (sometimes called nature strip but nature is now only represented by buffel grass and other weeds not even mowed) would be a great idea, perhaps with a small charge included in the collection of the weekly garbage, or that of the twice yearly collection of garden pruning.
    It may open the opportunity of new ASTC “jobs”.
    Sorry but this is a new problem for the soon to be elected Council to solve on behalf of all of Alice Springs population: longer opening hours, smaller charges, new area to dispose of large pieces of furniture and equipment and/or of sensitive material such as asbestos, oils and paints.
    What is being done in other regions, in Australia and overseas? Exciting project for a consultancy. My wishes to the new Council candidates.

  12. More good sense contained in recent comments.
    Returning to my example of the mattresses … $30 smacks of serious price gouging.
    The mattresses are piled high bonfire style and incinerated, the wire inner springs presumably buried.
    The Council takes the profit and shifts the costs of recovering dumped rubbish to others if possible.
    In the past we’ve offered a free service to take the mattresses. They are stripped of the material outer skin (its dumped in a wheelie bin), the perfect inner felt is useful for clean up rags at the very least or for extra packing by upholsterers when we find someone interested.
    We use the wonderful inner wire structure for pergolas, verandas, climbing plant barriers etc. No toxic smoke is released to the atmosphere.

  13. Hear, hear Maya, well said.
    I have a two door small car and I have to hire a skip for my rubbish.
    It is only because I respect our environment that I do not dump my rubbish in the bush.

  14. I am a dreamer and often I dream of the rubbish dump of the late 60s to the 70s.
    Every week end cars loads were going to the dump before dumping our rubbish, we used to go and have a look in other cars (scavenger it is called now) and take what ever we like (recycling).
    We loved the Pine Gap cars because the owners were leaving town: They dumped clothes and other goods of very good quality.
    Bags of cloths were shared: I take some and I put some.
    We had sharing, recycling, friendship, and feeling good.

  15. Oh am I going to have some fun. Dozens of places and volumes of illegally dumped rubbish 360 around the town.
    Pictures, GPS co ordinates and descriptions all to easy, let’s see how it goes.
    Council: Get your act together, un-complicate the the dump fee structure and reduce it. Let’s see a free hard waste collection from the footpath twice a year.

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