The Shire of Esperance has 90 days to determine if a Merivale location is suitable for a new waste facility, after council entered into a preliminary contract to purchase the land this week.
The 350-hectare property on Kirwin Road will undergo groundwater testing to ensure the soil is suitable for a facility and that there are no “fatal flaws” at the site.
“The intention is still that Wylie Bay will be kept as a transfer station, so for the general public, people will be going to Wylie Bay to deposit their waste,” Shire CEO Matthew Scott said.
Mr Scott said access to the site would be extremely restricted and not change the way most residents dispose of their waste.
“The only real waste going to the new facility will be via curbside collection trucks or compacted landfill waste from Wylie Bay,” he said.
Mr Scott said the property – at lot 12 Kirwin Road – is currently a blue gum plantation.
As only 100 hectares would be needed for the facility, there would be 250 hectares left for screening.
“The perception most people have of a waste facility is probably what we’ve got at Wylie Bay which is an old facility and certainly not [at] the the level of approval any new facility would have to be,” he said.
Preliminary physical testing at the Wylie Bay site began in September after a proposed Dalyup facility was deemed unsuitable “at the 11th hour”.
It was found that the site’s granite bedrock had fractures which would have allowed groundwater to rise and put upward pressure on the facility.
Mr Scott said the Shire was aiming for a transparent process with the new potential site and would liaise with adjoining property owners to alleviate concerns and keep the public up to date.
He said preliminary concept designs for the facility have been completed and are available to the public for review.
Shire President Victoria Brown said the new facility was under strict regulations and would not be approved unless all the environmental boxes were ticked.
“August 2019 is D-day and if we don’t have a site and facility by this time then realistically we will have to get rid of our waste some other way, and that will be highly expensive trucking it out of town,” she said.
Ms Brown said the facility would operate with no visual, noise, litter or groundwater impact.