Innovative storm waste facility nominated for Excellence Award

Council’s flagship storm waste facility near Romsey has been nominated as a finalist in the 2023 LGPro Awards for Excellence.

The awards recognise the outstanding work undertaken by individuals and teams working in local government in Victoria, with the facility nominated in the Special Projects category, recognising projects demonstrating best practice or the pursuit of excellence in service delivery.

The facility was established in partnership with Bushfire Recovery Victoria (now Emergency Recovery Victoria) in response to the severe 2021 storms. The site has processed more than 65,000 tonnes of tree and storm debris from the Macedon Ranges and other storm-affected areas throughout Victoria.

Upcycled product has been returned back to impacted communities in the form of free timber, fence posts, sleepers, stakes, firewood, fish habitat, mulch, sawdust and more; totalling over $29 million in market value so far.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council CEO Bernie O’Sullivan said the facility’s approach set a new, collaborative standard for the sustainable processing of trees and storm debris.

“The site allowed us to clear and process storm debris faster and on an enormous scale,” he said. “By reimagining storm-damaged timber as an opportunity to provide value for the community rather than simply as waste to be cleared, we assisted residents’ practical, environmental and social recovery.”

Mr O’Sullivan said that due to the significant amount of storm debris, if traditional mulching methods of green waste management had occurred, there would have been major problems disposing of the stockpiles of mulch product.

“An oversupply of mulch could have led to other issues such as potential fire hazards,” he said. “By thinking outside the square and working with partner agencies, we have been able to address this problem and at the same time, give back to impacted communities in a very tangible way.”

“The success of the project is a testament to the foundational role local government can play in changing the way response and recovery works in the aftermath of natural disasters.”

“It’s been a collaborative effort and I acknowledge the significant partnership with the Victorian Government. Partnering with them allowed us to scale our operation and process trees from other storm-affected parts of Victoria, leading to a better outcome for our community and many others.”

The facility continues to process material from the June 2021 storm and will soon be accepting material from other events as identified by ERV.

Winners of the 2023 LGPro Awards for Excellence will be announced at the LGPro Conference event in Melbourne on 25 May.

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