Passionate Dome Valley residents were lost for words and close to tears as they tried to explain why they felt the area was entirely the wrong place for a landfill at the hearing into Waste Management’s application for resource consent and a plan change on Monday.
They drew the commissioners’ attention to the very high and intense rainfall, the volatile soil structures, the distinctive wildlife and ecology, and the dangers posed by the highway, fires and flooding.
Susan Speedy, who collected a 15,000-signature opposing the mega-dump, said she had lived in the area for 30 years and has never seen such fury from residents.
“It makes no sense to locals, it’s insane,” she said. “I’m lost for words.”
Clearly emotional, she said the road was already lethal and adding 800 truck movements every day to the mix would be disastrous. She said the only peace came between 10pm and 4am, when the forest “came alive” with wildlife, something that would be destroyed if Waste Management’s 24-hour operation went ahead.
“That quiet time is vital for bittern and bats, and these are species that must be protected,” she said. “The bin exchange area – removing old growth trees; long tailed bats need big trees to keep warm. If you remove those trees, they’re gone and you’re going to put light, noise, disturbance right in their nursery. They found 150 bat movements in one night – that’s a huge amount.”
Waste Management says it would offset habitat loss by moving affected wildlife off-site, but Rodney Local Board member Danielle Hancock told commissioners that was not an easy thing to do, due to the lack of suitable land.
“It’s a challenge trying to match ecological sites,” she said. “That’s a big point for us. It would be better to avoid it.”
Dome Valley ecologist Matt Lomas pointed out that the ridge around the landfill valley itself was riddled with unseen springs that emerged as the water table rose, and tomos – water-filled holes – and culverts appeared out of nowhere regularly. He said there were fault lines running parallel with the Hoteo River and the many streams and tributaries were regularly blocked by forestry slash and other flood debris.
“It’s often pouring in the Dome and dry a kilometre away – the Dome creates its own weather,” he said. We’re going into climate chaos – you can’t put a dump in the Dome.
“There’s no way that the liner is not going to overfill. 100-year floods come every four years there.”
He said that while Waste Management said it would be able to control any flooding so that it would not reach the Kaipara Harbour 35km away, he had no doubt.
“I totally dispute it. If you had a flood, there’s no way you could control it,” he said.
“Floodwater that comes down Hoteo gets to Kaipara Harbour in 10 hours.”