Anger over 'grubby' roadside trend amid suburban development

Residents and councillors say illegal dumping is an ongoing problem costing rate payers millions every year.

Locals are growing increasingly frustrated with mounds of rubbish being illegally dumped on a narrow road in their rural suburb, seemingly by construction workers — a move they say is "dangerous" for drivers passing by and could one day "get someone killed".

Expressing her concern on social media, one resident warned others to "be careful" when driving along Flynn Avenue which runs through Middleton Grange and Austral in Sydney's west — situated among several new housing developments — condemning the "grubs" who appear to have dumped a truckload of waste on the side of the road.

Photos shared in the community Facebook group show a huge pile of construction waste spilling out onto the street. According to the poster, it's not the first time it's happened and residents have had enough.

A pile of building rubbish dumped on side of road on Flynn Avenue in Austral, Western Sydney.
Piles of building waste keep getting dumped on a rural road in Sydney's west. Source: Facebook.

"Be careful at the top of Flynn Avenue, again someone has decided to illegally dump here putting drivers at risk of an accident," the resident said. "Right at the crest of an already narrow road with debris spilling out onto the road… when is something going to be done about this?" she questioned.

Others agreed it's an "absolute joke" and blamed "dirty scumbags" for the mess. "People just need to stop being grubs, simple," said someone else.

Cost of rubbish removal partly to blame

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, local councillor Peter Harle said it's a major problem and one that's been going on for 20-odd years. But as more developments pop up around the western Sydney area, the bigger the problem gets.

"The area [where the rubbish is being dumped] is a part of Western Sydney Parklands, those areas will remain bushland," he explained. Because of that, "there's no lighting, there're no homes and no security and it's the ideal place to dump rubbish".

Most of the time it's building material and it often contains asbestos, making the piles of rubbish much more dangerous, and more expensive to remove.

Google Maps screen shot showing Flynn Avenue between Austral and Middleton Grange.
The area where rubbish is being dumped is part of the Western Sydney Parklands which remains bushland meaning there are no houses or streetlights. Source: Google Maps

"Rural areas have millions of dollars worth of illegal dumping occurring every year. Normally, to take it to a tip costs about $350 a tonne. So if you've got 10 tonnes of rubbish, that's a lot of money they save by dumping it onto roads that aren't being monitored," he said.

"What makes it more dangerous is that a lot of this material has got asbestos in it and it won't be taken by the normal waste disposal sites. They won't accept asbestos in the waste. It has to go to a special area where they have to pay a lot more."

Council's attempt to catch dumping culprits

In NSW, the penalties for illegal dumping are severe and can include fines of up to $250,000 for individuals and up to $1 million for corporations. Repeat offenders can face additional penalties, including imprisonment. Individuals can also receive on-the-spot fines between $4,000 to $7,500, the EPA states.

In the past, cameras have been installed, both overt and covert, but time and time again they were destroyed or expensive equipment was stolen. Harle suggests the people behind the dumping are likely to blame for the vandalism.

"They obviously don't want to be caught. So those cameras are a deterrent and consequently, they may have worked out a way of getting them," he said. Harle described illegal dumping as a "multi-million dollar business" and one he fears will continue.

Pile of building material dumped on side of Flynn Avenue in Austral, Sydney's west.
Residents and local councillors are fed up with the dumping which often contains asbestos. Source: Facebook

Austral and Middle Grange, where much of the dumping occurs, falls within the Liverpool City Council area. When contacted by Yahoo a council spokesperson confirmed they are "aware of illegal dumping in the area."

"A mix of covert and overt CCTV illegal dumping cameras are being installed in six strategic locations across the LGA including known dumping locations in Austral," they said. "These cameras will have number plate recognition and low light capacity and will be used to identify and prosecute offenders."

Councillor's solution to dumping problem

But given the little success cameras have had to date, Harle's not convinced they will work. Instead, he suggests rangers be present around the clock, particularly during the night when dumping occurs, which could stop dumpers in the act.

"In my humble opinion, we should have the rangers on a 24/7 programme and they should be monitoring and driving around, monitoring those hotspot areas. That's what would work," he said. "I think it would probably, in the long run, work out cheaper than replacing cameras on a constant basis."

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