Title

Defining appropriate options for post-closure land use of the Tamala Park Landfill in Western Australia

Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Environmental Management

School

School of Natural Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Andrea Hinwood

Second Advisor

Eddy Van Etten

Third Advisor

Pierre Horwitz

Abstract

Appropriate choices for post-closure landfill use can avoid or minimise environmental and health problems including methane production, waste subsidence and land contamination. The Tamala Park Landfill, located in the northern suburbs of Perth is expected to close around 2020, and the decision concerning its post-closure land use has not yet been made. Popular post-closure uses for landfills include sporting, industrial and residential developments and creation of wildlife habitats. Post-closure uses of landfills have direct positive or negative impacts on the surrounding community. It will therefore be beneficial for the community to have input into decisions about post-closure land uses.

Research was conducted to identify options for the post-closure land-use of Tamala Park and explore options for community participation in that decision-making process. A mixed methods research approach was used and included a postal questionnaire and focus groups.

The questionnaire was sent to a sample of 838 residents randomly selected from adjacent suburbs requesting views about landfill issues, preferences for post-closure land-use, and willingness and availability to volunteer in a community participation process. Most respondents were aware of the landfill site, having received relevant information in the previous five years. However, very few respondents had been consulted about the landfill or were aware of its projected closure. Only a small proportion of respondents were concerned about common environmental or health issues that are known to be associated with landfills. Only a small proportion of respondents wanted to be involved in the decision making process for deciding on landfill closure. Each respondent could also select up to ten land use options as being appropriate or not appropriate. The most popular choices were wildlife restoration and open space followed by a golf course, sports ground and plantation forestry, whereas agricultural, commercial, industrial, and housing developments were seen as inappropriate. Results from statistical analyses also suggested that having a strong network of family and friends in the area as well as proximity to the landfill were determining factors for respondents’ levels of awareness of issues associated with landfills.

Three focus groups were then conducted with interested questionnaire respondents. In two of the focus groups, there was very little enthusiasm for participating in decision-making concerning the future land-use of Tamala Park. The two major positive reasons for a low interest in participation were a high level of trust in the managing authority coupled with a general perception that the landfill is well managed and clean. Other reasons for low interest in participation were lack of time and the notion of a lack of power. Focus group participants were mostly willing to operate reactively if the final decisions on Tamala Park negatively impacted on them. Nonetheless, some focus group members acknowledged the advantages of participating in future decisions about the landfill and, in particular, the opportunity to accept responsibilities for future generations.

Both methods used assisted in meeting the research objectives and validated each set of findings. Furthermore, by integrating the two sets of results, a more comprehensive understanding was gained about participants’ preference for green development options and unwillingness to participate in future decision making.

This research has implications for the management of the landfill and research on landfill post-closure decision-making. Specifically, results from this research study will inform the MRC about preferred community options for landfill redevelopment and thus assist them in designing a participatory process for decisions about the post-closure use of the Tamala Park landfill.

LCSH Subject Headings

Sanitary landfills -- Western Australia -- Mindarie.

Hazardous waste site remediation -- Western Australia -- Public opinion.

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