From left, the panel of independent commissioners heard from Waste Management general manager Ian Kennedy, below, and lawyer Balthazar Matheson, bottom.
Community protests over Waste Management’s plan to build a landfill, on the north side of the Dome Valley, were not unexpected, according to the company’s legal representative Balthazar Matheson.
On the first day of a five-week resource consent hearing, Mr Matheson told a panel of five independent commissioners that the company knew that the landfill was likely to be unwelcome to the community.
He said that after looking at 250 different sites Waste Management had “failed to find the perfect one”.
“It’s not a perfect site, but it is a really good site. No site can be perfect,” he said.
“Eventually, we had to say, ‘this is the best we are going to get’.”
Mr Matheson responded to submissions that claimed Waste Management had not fulfilled its duty in exploring alternative sites for the landfill.
He said the Resource Management Act did not require an applicant to prove its site was the best and that Waste Management’s application contained sufficient detail on its considerations for choosing a site.
Mr Matheson acknowledged the aukati rahui (political rahui) placed on the landfill site by iwi representatives and community members, including Mikaera Miru, a Kaipara kaumatua, who was present at the hearing.
But Mr Matheson said that a rahui did not preclude proper assessment for a resource consent application.
“The courts have been clear that the role of mana whenua as kaitiaki does not confer a right of veto on proposals,” he said.
Mr Matheson also refuted claims in submissions by Ngati Whatua that Waste Management had not consulted the iwi. He said “strenuous efforts” had been made to consult, but consultation should not be equated with negotiation.
Mr Matheson took offence at a Ngati Whatua submission referring to the proposal as a “dump” rather than a landfill. He said it was “emotive language” and inappropriate for an expert witness.
The hearing started at the Warkworth Town Hall on November 9 and Waste Management is expected to continue to present its evidence until November 20. Local iwi will start making their case from November 24. They will be followed by other interested parties including Fight the Tip, Department of Conservation, Rodney Local Board, Kaipara District Council and Forest and Bird. The hearings are scheduled to continue until December 17.
Mahurangi Matters will cover the hearing and submissions in upcoming editions and at localmatters.co.nz
Hearings can also be viewed online: