The owner of a Black Hill based waste management company was shocked at the community anger towards what he said was the lawful use of waste on a property he owns at Whittingham.
Rodney Lodge owns Enviroking Waste Recycling Solutions, a business started by his father 40 years ago, that has handled food and grease trap waste for the last 20 years.
He was speaking at a public meeting held on Tuesday night at the Whittingham Hall to allow local residents and landholders the chance to voice their opinion on Enviroking's use of grease trap waste on a property they purchased at 3910 New England Highway.
Neighbouring landholders spoke about their concerns with the putrid smell coming from the property and the risks posed to waterways including Mudies Creek (a tributary of the Hunter River) that flows through the property.
Many had contacted the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) regarding the overwhelming smell only to be told Enviroking hold a licence to use treated grease trap waste.
Mr Lodge said his family own and operate the business which includes a plant built at their Black Hill site in 1998.
"We have been soil injecting the grease trap waste for 20 years and never had a reaction like this before," he told the assembled gathering that included Mayor Sue Moore and Councillors Val Scott, Tony McNamara and Tony Jarrett and local resident and former Councillor Alison Howlett.
"We have had the odd complaint but never like this - I am blown away by all of this.
"Our company has been injecting soil at a Buchanan property for two decades with no problems."
Mr Lodge described the process of injecting the waste, that is collected throughout the region, into the ground. He said using a machine towed behind a tractor the waste was deposited 300mm in the soil and he estimated 100 tonnes/week would be arriving on site.
He admitted the recent odour was due to a mistake with food waste put in the wrong place.
"I have been in contact with the EPA sorted that out and we do want to work with the community," he said.
When asked why not use the waste on land other than prime agricultural riverflats Mr Lodge said they had done some work on mine rehabilitated land with the Bloomfield Group and at Donaldson mine but the damage to his equipment was too great to continue this work.
Mrs Howlett questioned how a generic licence provided by the EPA 20 years ago was still operational and how this allowed for waste to be used on prime land subject to flooding.
"We have no say in this - no Council development application is required but it impacts everyone."
She called on the Singleton community to get involved so we do not become a dumping group for others waste.
"Years ago we stopped waste being dumped in local mine voids, we now we have to stop waste being used on prime farmlands. Singleton should not be everyone's waste depot," she said.
Mr Lodge was asked if the company picked up shopping centre grease trap waste which is not covered by the EPA regulations. He did not give a definitive answer nor could be answer whether grape material was in the waste as it also poses serious disease risks for the local industry.
Organiser Ray Burgmann thanked Mr Lodge for attending the meeting before saying the meeting agreed that we don't want this waste on this farm.
The EPA, member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen and Water NSW will all be contacted in regards to specific questions on shopping centre waste and grape material.