Illegal dumping an ongoing issue inside Hunter Economic Zone

Some of the rubbish dumped at the Hunter Economic Zone.
Some of the rubbish dumped at the Hunter Economic Zone.

Illegal dumping of commercial waste in the Coalfields' ill-fated Hunter Economic Zone should be addressed, a nearby resident says.

But Cessnock City Council says the size of the estate and ease of public access means it is difficult to police illegal dumping, which has been an ongoing problem over several years.

First touted in the late 1990s, the industrial estate at Pelaw Main was once seen as a way to boost jobs in the Lower Hunter.

But the discovery of the endangered native bird the Regent Honeyeater at the site has been among the factors that have contributed to the development grinding to a halt before it really got started, with the site remaining largely empty.

The issue of illegal dumping - as well as dangerous driving by joy-riders on roads inside the estate - have long raised the ire of the many in the surrounding population.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said it was common for trucks to enter the Hunter Economic Zone and dump commercial waste.

Some of the rubbish dumped at the Hunter Economic Zone.

Some of the rubbish dumped at the Hunter Economic Zone.

He suggested bollards be set up beyond the locations of businesses on the fringe of the estate in order to stop large vehicles getting onto the "road to nowhere".

The man said dangerous driving was also an issue for nearby residents.

"It generally starts early afternoon and honestly the noise that the cars are making, it sounds like they're a couple of block away," he said.

"The sound travels really well through the bush. The smell of the burning rubber hangs in the air so much, you can't mask it - it smells like you've put plastic on your own fire in your house."

Some of the rubbish dumped at the Hunter Economic Zone.

Some of the rubbish dumped at the Hunter Economic Zone.

Cessnock City Council's general manager Lotta Jackson said illegal dumping in the Hunter Economic Zone had been a problem for many years.

"The area consistently attracts loads of illegally dumped material and we want to emphasize that illegal dumping is never acceptable behaviour, no matter the size or material," she said.

"While the HEZ site is privately owned, council, via the Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Squad has been working in the area for some time, carrying out regular patrols with the owner's permission.

"The RID Squad has detected and taken action against numerous offenders for illegal dumping offences in the greater HEZ area and will continue to do so."

Ms Jackson said on-the-spot fines ranged from $2000 to $8000 and second-time offenders risked court action where they faced a possible maximum penalty of $110,000.

"Educating the community about illegal dumping is so important and we have put together a number of campaigns to increase our community's awareness," she said.

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