The Toolara Forest, long-earmarked for a potential superdump, could instead become home to renewable energy as the days of landfills die out.
The Toolara Forest, long-earmarked for a potential superdump, could instead become home to renewable energy as the days of landfills die out. craig warhurst

Toolara mooted for renewable energy future

IS TOOLARA Forest part of the region's renewable energy future?

It could be on the cards as the region charts a course into its waste disposal future in the face of the Bonnick Rd dump's impending closure, Mayor Mick Curran said this week.

Toolara has long been mooted as a potential home for a $30 million superdump, but Cr Curran said the rapidly changing face of waste regulation meant there were many options on the table.


gympie dump
Bonnick Rd dump. Scott Kovacevic

"State Government legislation is zero waste to landfill," he said. "That will be the future.

"There's some really good science out there in the conversion of what used to go to landfill into... green energy."


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Although the council's next step is to build a transfer station at Monkland on Laurenceson Rd, the real question is where the rubbish will go from there.

And Cr Curran said the forest site could "absolutely" become home to a waste-to-energy facility.

"Gympie Regional Council has a benefit in the fact we have a rail line, we have main highway... and the biggest population in southeast Queensland is Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast," he said.

"We're the next stop.

"There's huge potential."


Official opening of the Mary Valley Rail Trail by Mayor Mick Curran.
Mayor Mick Curran. Gympie Regional Council

He said one of the key points in the Wide Bay Burnett Organisation of Councils' economic development strategy was around the "potential for new business around waste".

"It's a very, very changing environment."

But whether the future of waste disposal was in Toolara was a question for the next council.

And it was an expensive one.

"Do we as a council invest upwards of $30 million to create a new landfill facility?" Cr Curran said. "You've got to remember the days are well gone where you find a hole in the ground and fill it with waste.

"For Gympie Regional Council to have that investment alone is probably too expensive unless we collaborate with neighbouring councils or somebody else," he said.

In the meantime the council was moving forward with the transfer station - included in this year's budget - and looking to make a deal.


Rubbish getting put out. Photo Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times
Rubbish. Renee Albrecht

"That's a business in confidence matter at the moment, but we have had discussion with neighbouring councils," Cr Curran said.

"Landfills are very expensive to run... and rehabilitate.

"Then you're responsible for the landfill site for years into the future. You can't just close down a landfill and walk away from it. We've had negotiations with other councils... if that's the way forward."

For those yearning for the days when every part of the region had its own tip, Cr Curran said "it's just not sustainable".

"The cost of doing that whilst meeting the environmental legislation just can't be done."