LAKE Macquarie City Council and Environment Protection Authority leadership was notable in its absence at a packed community meeting called by Boolaroo Action Group to discuss lead contamination in north Lake Macquarie on Monday night.
About 250 people attended a meeting at Club Macquarie to discuss proposed changes to council's Development Control Plan that will make more than 3000 Lake Macquarie landowners responsible for heavy industry polluting their land.
After hearing a list of apologies from the council and the EPA, Boolaroo Action Group member Stan Kiaos presented the audience with a wall of shame featuring senior bureaucrats and councillors.
"The council is not in a position to attend, how can that be from such a big entity?" Mr Kiaos asked. "Just to supply one person here for two hours."
The meeting heard that residents needing a development application to build a fence could be required to remediate their land at their own cost of up $100,000.
Mr Kiaos said the community was fed up with being ignored. "We've had enough of it, we have put up with this for too long," he said. "We want some action."
A resident said it would be a "miracle" if the council "actually represents the people and is not as absent as it is tonight at this meeting".
Residents voted unanimously on six resolutions that Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, who addressed the meeting, agreed to take to the NSW government.
They included scrapping the proposed changes to the DCP that will make a blanket "assumption" that thousands of residential properties within a lead contamination grid, drawn up in 1995, are polluted by lead.
Other resolutions included having a free local repository for soil dispoal, making free clean soil available, streamlining the remediation process and creating a NSW government future fund to assist residents with remediation costs.
Residents also want the EPA to be responsible for the cost of auditing and certifying remediation works and want free geotextile material available for residents who choose to cap and cover contaminated soil.
Action group spokesman Jim Sullivan said the resolutions were "basically what the community had been wanting for decades".
"It's unconscionable [the proposed changes to the DCP] and I can't believe the council has come up with this idea," he said.
"This should have been dealt with 20 years ago.
"The people responsible for this is you - the council and the EPA - but mainly the EPA and the government. Now they want to place all the responsibility for the remediation and the clean up onto the homeowners, it's quite extraordinary."
Boolaroo Action Group is fighting the proposed changes describing it as a way of making residents "officially responsible for pollution they had nothing to do with" from the former Pasminco lead and zinc smelter that closed in 2003.
The group believes the proposed changes "fly in the face" of the NSW government's polluter pays policy.
The meeting heard that residents can apply for access to a $800,000 fund set up by the state government that provides $100,000 a year for four years for residents. The remaining $400,000 of the fund was provided to Lake council to manage the remediation process.
The meeting heard Liberal councillors Jason Pauling and Nick Jones pushed for the full fund, or $800,000, to be available to residents, but they were defeated.
Mr Piper agreed to invite NSW environment minister Matthew Kean to visit the area.