Energy from Waste – FAQs

Mar 28, 2022

Given the community interest in relation to Energy from Waste it is appropriate for the Council to provide information and outline its position. This document has been produced for this purpose.

At the end of this document you will also find helpful links to other sources of information produced by the NSW Government and that government’s Chief Scientist. Links are also provided to various council reports on this matter.


What Is Energy from Waste?

Energy from Waste involves the thermal treatment of residual waste or waste-derived materials for the recovery of energy. 

What is an Energy from Waste Facility?

An Energy from Waste Facility uses thermal technology to convert residual waste that would otherwise go to landfill into steam which drives turbines to generate electricity.[i] 



Where are Energy from Waste Facilities located?

While new to Australia , Energy from Waste Facilities are located in many countries around the world including a number of European and Scandinavian countries; Japan; Singapore and the United States.


What is residual waste?

Residual waste is the waste left over after all recyclable or re-usable material has been removed following a true resource recovery process or source separation collection system. Residual waste is the waste that is currently sent to landfill.[i]


Are there any Energy from Waste proposals in the Lithgow Local Government Area?

Under the NSW Government’s planning system Energy from Waste is permissible with consent in Lithgow today.

A development application was lodged with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment by Energy Australia and Re Group in 2020 for the Mount Piper Energy Recovery Project.  It is understood that Energy Australia has withdrawn from the Project but the other partner, Re Group, has not yet determined its position on the future of the project. The application has not yet been determined by the NSW Government.

The company that owns the former Wallerawang Power Station site are considering a proposal for such a facility at that site but that is at a very early concept stage.

NSW Government’s Position - Energy from Waste Policy Statement

In 2015, the NSW EPA released the Energy from Waste Policy Statement “to support increased investment in energy from waste infrastructure and deliver regulatory certainty to industry.”  In 2021, the EPA updated the Energy from Waste Policy Statement “to reflect the latest advice on air emissions standards from the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer to ensure NSW has air emission standards that meet and exceed world best practice. The updated Policy Statement ensures that all NSW energy from waste facilities, wherever they operate, are subject to strict new air quality and operating standards to help protect our environment and human health.”


What Is the New South Wales Government’s Energy from Waste Infrastructure Plan?

On 10 September 2021 the New South Wales Government announced their Energy from Waste Infrastructure Plan.   

The Plan defines where new thermal waste to energy facilities can and cannot proceed.  It identifies four specific precincts in regional New South Wales as priority locations for these operations, these being: 

  • West Lithgow Precinct
  • Parkes Special Activation Precinct
  • Richmond Valley Regional Jobs Precinct
  • Southern Goulburn-Mulwaree Precinct 

The West Lithgow precinct encompasses the Mount Piper power station and nearby lands extending to Blackman’s Flat in the east and the outskirts of Portland to the West (see plan below) 

West Lithgow Precinct

What was Lithgow City Council’s initial response to the Energy from Waste Infrastructure Plan?

At its Ordinary meeting of 27 September 2021 the Council resolved to oppose the NSW Government’s Energy from Waste Infrastructure Plan.

What is the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Thermal Energy from Waste) Regulation 2021 (Draft Regulation)?

The Draft Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Thermal Energy from Waste) Regulation 2021 essentially places a legal framework around the Infrastructure Plan and, if made, would give effect to the Government policy.  


What is Council's position on the draft Regulation?

At its Ordinary Meeting of 2 March 2022 the Council considered its position on the draft Regulation and made the following resolutions to be submitted to the NSW Government. The revised position drew from briefings which had been provided by the NSW Government’s Chief Scientist about the health and environmental safeguards, which are international best-practice and will be mandatory, as well as the comfort that an Environmental Impact Statement and significant public involvement were required for any proposals.

 Key aspects of the council’s position are dealt with here-

 Council Resolution 

  • While Council no longer has a blanket opposition to inclusion in the infrastructure plan and draft regulation it maintains its rights to comment and if necessary oppose individual developments if it is of the view that environmental, planning/ health or any other impact outweighs the benefits of a specific


 Council will not compromise on health, safety and environmental impacts of any development to be situated in its local government area.  This is simply non-negotiable and is a recognition that individual proposals must stack up on merit. If any proposal does come forward, then it will need to meet international best-practice standards in relation to any health or environmental risks.

 Council Resolution

  • The NSW Government be requested to deliver an extensive community consultation and engagement program around EfW.


Council believes that engagement by the NSW Government with communities where Energy from Waste facilities may be considered has not been sufficient.  Council has requested the New South Wales Government to provide accurate, scientific and factual information to communities so they may be better informed ahead of any future development applications being lodged for energy from waste facilities.

Council Resolutions

  • Council indicate that whilst it removes its blanket opposition to the energy from waste infrastructure plan this is conditional upon the government building in mechanisms to ensure economic benefit flows through to communities.
  • Council requests that the NSW Government provide a dedicated mechanism whereby the government provides investment attraction support for enterprises seeking to locate in the vicinity of Energy from Waste facilities.
  • Council requests that the NSW Government provide funding for any required infrastructure to support the establishment of enterprises seeking to locate in the vicinity of Energy from Waste facilities


 In developing its current qualified position the Council clearly recognised that there was potential for economic benefits to flow from such facilities, particularly for industries benefiting from cheaper electricity.

The first and second points above are seeking affirmative action by the government to ensure that much more than EfW is achieved, which is an objective or premise behind EfW being directed to the regions. Council has referred the government to other initiatives such as the Renewable Energy Zones, Clean Manufacturing Precincts, Hydrogen Hubs and SAPs where government has actively facilitated investment attraction and the like.

The third point above requests support for enabling infrastructure. In Lithgow’s case this might relate to the likes of smoothing any pinch points in the freight rail network so waste can be moved by rail ;   working with council on a water scheme which provides secure, bulk water; enhancements to the electricity grid or network so that power is readily captured and  distributed.

Council Resolution

  •  Council support the inclusion of the site and surrounds of the former Wallerawang power station as a precinct within the energy from waste infrastructure plan subject to further targeted community consultation occurring.


Council’s supports the inclusion of the former Wallerawang Power Station site within the Lithgow West Precinct. The re-purposing of the former Wallerawang power station site is seen as a critical strategic component of Lithgow’s future economy. The inclusion of this site within the Regulation could accelerate its development, with the added benefit of transport of waste to the site by rail. The potential for early activation activity of this site could also attract synergistic employment generating industries. This is an important opportunity for this community and the region.

Council Resolution 

  • A requirement for Energy from Waste Facilities to make ongoing contributions to host Local Government Areas based on tonnages processed at the facility.


Each of the four LGAs hosting the EfW precincts have very limited financial capacity. We believe that Richmond Valley and Lithgow in particular have the lowest revenue bases within their LGA category. It takes capacity for a council to innovate, attract investment beyond EfW and to deliver infrastructure and resources.

For the above reasons, this is a most important component of Council’s overall position. A   levy or royalty based on tonnage of waste material brought to a facility in an area, we propose, should be an essential component of government policy – built into the Regulation. 

Council Resolution

  • The plan be accompanied by a framework to ensure that the carbon consequences of EfW are dealt with by materially compounding the carbon reduction benefits going well beyond a landfill vs EfW offset argument


 It appears clear from the scientific data that, when considered on a one-on-one basis, an energy from waste facility will produce less greenhouse emissions than a landfill. But it is still, arguably, imprudent to use combustion as an energy source within the 21st century. Cities and businesses that do so will be questioned in terms of their regard for climate change. These legitimate criticisms will be best dealt with by optimising (compounding) the carbon reduction benefits derived from the activity. Council is of the view that a framework is required to ensure that this objective is mandated and not left to ad hoc approaches. Such an approach would also align these precincts and their activities with NSW Government commitments to Nett Zero. They would be showcase examples of a city going beyond EfW or old practice for industry and manufacturing and delivering instead a “clean” 21st industrial ecology.

Council Resolution 

  • A specific requirement of Greenspot that Council’s non-opposition to inclusion of their site as a precinct is conditional upon further extensive community consultation and agreement of a long term enduring royalty being paid to Council/ should any future development proposal proceed which council may use at its discretion on infrastructure/ community facilities/ programs or ongoing operations.


 This is a matter Council will take up with any future proponent for a EfW development in the city. But as mentioned, we believe there is the need for a mechanism within the Regulation that goes behind the Voluntary Planning Agreement process currently provided by the planning system.

Where can you find further information?

There is a great deal of information available on the web on Energy from Waste Facilities. However to understand the NSW State Government’s and Lithgow Council’s position, the following links may be useful.

Will Lithgow Council be holding information sessions for the public?

This is a NSW Government policy and as we describe above, we have requested that they hold information sessions.

Notwithstanding, if Lithgow is included within the final legislation then yes we will be actively engaging with the community to explain, listen, understand individuals’ concerns and to represent the interests of the broader community.