Legal advice concerning the Mangrove Mountain Landfill site and related proceedings was considered in a confidential Central Coast Council meeting on Monday, August 27, but the community has not yet been informed of the outcome.
The reason for considering the matter in a closed session was that it related to “advice concerning litigation, or advice that would otherwise be privileged from production in legal proceedings on the ground of legal professional privilege”.
The urgency of the matter was discussed early in the Council meeting.
Clr Richard Mehrtens said he was happy to move the confidential matter as an urgency motion based on the advice of Council’s Executive Manager Governance, Mr Brian Glendenning.
Mr Glendenning said there was “an externality due to legal action to which Central Coast Council was not a party”.
At the conclusion of the confidential meeting, Council determined to keep its resolution confidential, again on the grounds of legal professional privilege.
Mr Glendenning was seen collecting envelopes, believed to contain confidential briefing papers, from the Councillors present, at the conclusion of the confidential meeting.
Following the meeting, Mayor Jane Smith said she was unable to comment on matters discussed but “what I can say is the decision of Council will become apparent soon”.
Coast Community News made a request on Wednesday, August 29, for the information to be made public in time for our publishing deadline.
Verde Terra currently has two matters before the NSW Land and Environment Court (LEC) regarding its Environmental Protection Licence (EPL) to operate the Mangrove Mountain Landfill.
On Thursday, August 23 the EPA asked the court to discontinue the first action, which was an appeal of a deemed refusal for variations to the licence, which the EPA had been considering since 2015.
The second matter relates to the EPA’s recent decision to refuse a new application from Verde Terra for variations to its licence.
In an earlier statement to Coast Community News, the EPA had stated that its refusal of the latest application for a licence variation was due to concerns that resumption of operations at the landfill would have an adverse impact on the environment.
It also stated the application had been refused “because we do not believe that the proposed activities have planning approval”.
Central Coast Council is the planning consent authority for the Mangrove Mountain land.
The LEC registrar said the court would continue to hear both matters which were both stood over until September 13.
In relation to the second LEC matter, the EPA was given until 5pm on September 11, to submit a statement of facts and contentions.
The EPA’s legal team told the court it was still waiting to hear from Central Coast Council, but that Council was due to meet on Monday, August 27, “to make a determination” and the EPA expected to hear from Council in the week.
“We expect that their decision is in the best interest of the community,” said Stephen Goodwin, spokesman for the Mountain Districts Association (MDA).
“The community is sure that there is an unresolved matter surrounding the development consent,” Goodwin said.
“One way or another, Council will be drawn into this action, and, really, it would seem obvious to us, that they would seek to join the action with EPA to control their own information in relation to the matters before the court, rather than being subpoenaed in,” he said.
“MDA was most interested to hear the court request the EPA to submit a statement of facts and contentions, because that is expected to explain the grounds behind the second reason they gave for refusing the application, due to its adverse impact on the environment if approved.
“The EPA has until September 11 to submit that statement to the court, so they will have received the advice from Council on its intentions before then, so the EPA and Council will have had time to work together.”
Agenda item 8.3, Aug 27, Central Coast Council ordinary meeting Interview, Aug 28
Jane Smith, Central Coast Council
Interview, Aug 29, Stephen Goodwin, Mountain Districts Association, Jackie Pearson, journalist