Northern NSW’s Byron Shire Council is inviting the community to provide feedback on its DA for the construction of a fully enclosed bioenergy facility at the Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). If approved, it will be a first-of-its-kind facility in Australia.
Council’s Senior Project Manager for the bioenergy facility project, John Hart said the facility would use dry anaerobic digestion technology to process the Shire’s residential and commercial organic waste and convert it into renewable energy and a compost product.
“Over 20,000 tonne a year of the region’s organic waste is currently transported to Queensland, so this facility presents an opportunity for Byron Shire to take control of its own organic waste with a local solution,” Mr Hart said.
Council’s primary objective of the bioenergy facility project is to reduce carbon emissions by diverting organic waste from landfill, reducing long distance truck movements and creating a secure and reliable renewable energy source for the Byron Bay STP.
The facility is designed to generate between 3 to 4 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy per year, which is approximately 50-70 percent of Council’s total annual grid electricity consumption.
Mr Hart said it would reduce Council’s carbon emissions by up to 20% (equivalent to taking 1,030 cars/year off the road) and remove the Byron STP from grid electricity. Excess energy would be dispatched to the grid on demand.
The construction of the facility is estimated to cost between $15-20 million and Council is currently applying for State and Federal grants. Mr Hart said Council would partially fund the project from its Sewerage Fund Capital Works Reserve with no planned increase to rates or Council charges to ratepayers.
The proposed development would be confined within the sewage treatment plant grounds at Wallum Place, Byron Bay. If approved, the facility is estimated to commence construction in 2022.
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is also available to view as part of the DA, which defines how Council will manage and minimise any potential impacts arising from the proposed construction of the facility.
Mr Hart said an online community survey conducted by Council earlier this year indicated 96% of respondents were in support of the bioenergy facility concept.
“It is important for the community to understand the public exhibition stage is their opportunity to provide any feedback as part of the DA process, which will then be assessed by the Northern Regional Planning Panel,” he said.