Raymond Terrace residents have been given the first indication of the prospect of some peace of mind after suffering 18 long months of noise emanating from the Return and Earn reverse vending machine (RVM) located in the carpark of Terrace Central.
The shopping centre manager Vivian Zakaria told the Examiner that the owners were liaising with Port Stephens Council and Tomra Cleanaway, who are responsible for the RVM's siting, for a possible relocation.
"Our assistant manager Penny Clarke is now communicating with council and Tomra to reach a resolution," Ms Zakaria said.
The talks were initiated as a result of a council resolution at last Tuesday night's meeting calling on Tomra to relocate, away from residents, the RVM at the corner of Sturgeon and Glenelg streets in Raymond Terrace.
In the event the RVM is not relocated, councillors resolved to write to Environment Minister Matt Kean, requesting that the unit be relocated. Two options put forward by councillors included a section of the shopping centre carpark away from residents or in the former skate park behind Marketplace.
The councillors also proposed to remove the development application exemption on Tomra for future Return and Earn locations and that, in future, "councils be consulted before Return and Earn machines are installed".
The Examiner did not receive a response to questions from Tomra Cleanaway, while a Department of Environment spokesperson said that, in response to residents' complaints, many remedies had been implemented including reducing operational hours, installation of soundproofing, altering and reducing collection hours from trucks and applying alternative collection methods
"Tomra has met on numerous occasions with council and is open to considering additional locations in collaboration with council to better service the area."
A council spokesperson said that Tomra had previously agreed on alternative locations that might alleviate the alleged impacts of the RVM.
"Unfortunately Tomra withdrew their agreement to the alternative proposed locations, however council is again working with them in an attempt to amicably resolve the issue."
Since its installation in August 2018, Terrace residents including Julie Robinson and Nina Hovarth, who spoke during public access, have had to endure the noise of smashing glass and trucks outside of operational hours, rubbish left behind, abuse by residents and the sound of shopping trolleys being used to move bottles.
A report from mayor Ryan Palmer said "as the installation does not require council approval, council has limited jurisdiction over its placement".