Kaipara says “no” to Auckland’s rubbish in its backyard
Commissioners at the resource consent hearing for a proposed landfill in the Dome Valley heard that the Kaipara District Council was unanimous in its opposition.
Kaipara Mayor Dr Jason Smith said each of Kaipara’s elected councillors had voted in favour of his submission against the landfill.
He said such unity was rare in the fractious world of council politics.
The commissioners asked Dr Smith if he had any suggestion about an alternative site for the landfill.
Dr Smith suggested that waste could be transported via rail, possibly to Taranaki, where it could feed a large waste-to-energy plant.
He said that he had spoken to a mayor in Taranaki who was broadly in favour of the idea.
Dr Smith said for Auckland to put its landfill in the Dome Valley would be akin to a household dumping all its rubbish on its neighbour’s boundary.
“For Auckland, it is the edge of its patch, but for Kaipara it is at the centre. It is an out of sight, out of mind mentality,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the fragile soils, high rainfall and flood risk are risks that are specific to the site.”
The commissioners asked the Mayor if the Kaipara District would benefit from having an additional landfill to send its waste to.
Dr Smith said it could be more affordable to send some of its waste to the Dome rather than to Whangarei, but the Council did not view the proposal in those terms.
“The cheaper option would be to say ‘yes’ to this landfill. But, we are saying ‘no’.”
Dr Smith spoke about the $100 million Kaipara Harbour remediation programme.
He said in coming years ratepayers of various councils would be matching that funding to see the project to completion.
“It beggars belief that a project of that scale could be happening on the ground at the same time as introducing the risk of leachate going in to the harbour.”
The commissioners asked Dr Smith whether Waste Management’s proposed riparian planting of the site and pest control efforts would assist with the remediation.
Dr Smith said the planting of all waterways was already being funded. He said even if the landfill was a low risk in the immediate term, the risk to the environment in 150 to 200 years would increase.
He said his duty was to ratepayers, both present and in the future.
“I carry their concerns on my shoulders today,” he said.
Mahurangi Residents Association pushes for rail
The Mahurangi Residents and Ratepayers Association told commissioners that using rail to transport waste from the proposed landfill ought to be a condition of the resource consent.
On behalf of the Association, Stuart Windross submitted alternative calculations on the impact the landfill would have on traffic, which differed from those submitted by Waste Management.
Mr Windross told commissioners he used Auckland Transport and NZ Transport Agency data and found the landfill would result in a 44 to 60 per cent increase in heavy vehicles through the Dome.
Waste Management had estimated only a 13 to 14 per cent increase.
He said an estimated 1400 litres of fuel would be burned daily, but use of rail could mitigate carbon emissions.
Mr Windross said waste was an ideal cargo for rail. It was bulk cargo with a single destination and was not time critical.
After prompting from commissioners, Mr Windross acknowledged that Waste Management had engaged with him about the possibility of rail, and that KiwiRail’s lukewarm response to the idea was an impediment.
Hearings may be extended
Waste Management legal representative Balthazar Matheson made a request to chair Sheenia Tepania that the hearings schedule be extended into the new year and reconvene on January 27.
He said Waste Management will most likely need more time to respond to the submissions of 20 experts presenting on behalf of Auckland Council.
“I am also very conscious that the man in the red suit has nearly arrived,” Mr Matheson said.
Ms Tepania said the panel would consider the request.