Mahurangi Matters questioned Waste Management after commissioners decided to grant their resource consent application for a landfill in the Dome Valley …
WM must be pleased with the decision of the commissioners. However, opposition to the landfill has been enormous with a demonstration (hikoi) down Queen Street, a rahui placed on the landfill site by local iwi, objections by political leaders of all persuasions (e.g. Chris Penk, Marja Lubeck, Greg Sayers, Dr Jason Smith). Does WM accept that the local community emphatically does not want a landfill? Do you have a message to those passionately opposed to the landfill?
We are respectful of differing opinions and people’s right to be heard.
The reality is a new landfill is required to safely manage the waste produced by the people who choose to live in Auckland, as well as the industries and commercial businesses that support their lifestyle.
Redvale Landfill & Energy Park, which takes much of Auckland’s waste that cannot be recycled, is expected to stop receiving waste in 2028. It means action is needed now to ensure Aucklanders’ waste can continue to be disposed of safely. It is critical to the health and wellbeing of the whole community.
There are currently no viable alternatives to landfill available for disposal of large qualities of waste in the Auckland region or New Zealand.
We agree with opponents to the landfill that all New Zealanders need to do better to address the amount of waste that we generate each year. We are continuing to play an active role in developing and delivering solutions that will help achieve waste minimisation, but this will also require a significant change in New Zealanders’ behaviour.
Until we can move away from our current ‘take, make, waste’ model to a circular economy, Waste Management is one of the few companies with the expertise and experience to safely manage waste on behalf of the millions of people who live here now (and the millions who will live here in the future). We consider it our responsibility to use that expertise to provide a suitable solution for Auckland’s waste.
The RMA requires a process to be followed. It is disappointing that many of those who oppose the development of this landfill (including those who you have listed) have declined invitations to visit Redvale landfill and energy park to get an appreciation of the systems in place to totally contain the waste and manage environmental effects. Our message to those who remain opposed to the proposal is to accept that offer and allow us to put their concerns at ease.
Submissions opposing the landfill came from numerous respected sources including the Department of Conservation, many local iwi, Forest & Bird and the Kaipara District Council. They presented expert evidence in relation to adverse environmental and cultural impacts? Does WM say these experts simply got it wrong?
The site was chosen after years of searching for an ideal location that carefully considered and evaluated a range of technical, ecological, cultural and engineering requirements. We believe it is the most suitable site for a landfill to safely manage Auckland’s waste into the future.
Our consent application included input from 24 independent technical experts, and this was reviewed and supported by a further 19 independent technical experts engaged by Auckland Council.
It is unfortunate that of the approximate 1,000 submissions in opposition from mana whenua and the local community, only around 30 people have visited Redvale to view a modern landfill operation and gain a better understanding of the potential cultural and environmental impacts.
Some, like the Mayor of Kaipara District Council, have openly declined to meet with Waste Management.
Those that have visited Redvale and Kate Valley, have been impressed with the level of protection offered by these facilities and have acknowledged their previous lack of appreciation that modern landfills in New Zealand are world class and bear no resemblance to those constructed before the 1990s.
For example, 95% of the landfill gas, generated by decomposing organic waste, is vacuum sucked into gas lines which is then burned to generate electricity to be fed back into the national grid. This prevents harmful greenhouse gases entering the environment.
Our landfills have the capacity to generate sufficient electricity to power 24,000 New Zealand homes. We also use the electricity to power our growing electric truck collections fleet – we are in the process of converting our diesel trucks to electric to massively cut Aotearoa’s carbon emissions.
Another use for the landfill gas that we extract from New Zealander’s waste includes supplying heating to horticulture, for example New Zealand’s largest aubergine glasshouse – which is located directly next door to Redvale Landfill & Energy Park.
Waste Management continues to invite those that are interested to make contact and arrange a visit to Redvale.
Commissioner Tepania (the chair of the panel) did not support the decision to grant the resource consents. She was convinced of the environmental and adverse cultural impacts. Is WM bothered by the fact that the commissioners were not unanimous and that the chair of the commission had such concerns? Doesn’t her stance legitimise the views of those who have objected to the landfill all along?
We respect the view of Commissioner Tepania, however, the Resource Management Act allows for a majority decision situation.
The majority decision (4 commissioners) found in favour of granting resource consent, noting the positive effects on Auckland’s infrastructure and the efficient operation of the region. They also considered many technical, ecological, cultural and engineering requirements, which are covered in detail in the decision document.
The commissioners granted a consent subject to conditions. Could you highlight one or two of these conditions that you feel will go a long way to satisfying the cultural/ecological concerns raised. Can you say how they satisfy these concerns?
We are now reviewing the commissioners’ decision and conditions of consent in detail and do not consider it appropriate to comment on specifics until the appeals period is over. Of note is that of the 397 conditions, all bar one or two are as offered by Waste Management at the end of the hearing. We believe this demonstrates that we have listened and addressed the concerns raised to the satisfaction of the majority of commissioners.However, we are respectful of the community and mana whenua’s position and want to work through concerns constructively. The conditions of consent require Waste Management to invite mana whenua to form and participate in a Mana Whenua Rōpū which will facilitate ongoing engagement between Waste Management and mana whenua for the life of the landfill. This will enable mana whenua to:
(a) “maintain and enhance their relationship with the land (whenua) and waterways(awa) within and adjacent to the site;
(b) provide recommendations as to how, through the implementation of the obligations in the consent conditions, mana whenua can exercise kaitiakitanga of affected whenua and awa;
(c) have involvement in the development, implementation and monitoring of cultural indicators;
(d) review and comment on the development of specified management plans and results of environmental monitoring; and
(e) provide recommendations to, and request responses from, the consent holder in respect of the matters listed above or other matters that the MWR may raise from time to time.”
Technology used in modern, engineered landfills has evolved significantly to protect Papatūānuku. All waste is effectively wrapped, allowing the natural decomposition process to take place while stopping any contamination of groundwater. All landfill gas is captured and either destroyed or converted to electricity to minimise harmful greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere.
New Zealand’s landfill standards are among the best in the world and bear no resemblance to the dumps constructed before the 1990s (as recognised by Fight the Tip’s independent expert). Waste Management was involved in the development of the Technical Guidelines for Disposal to Land and our landfill proposal has adopted these guidelines to ensure that we manage the waste Kiwis produce in the safest and most environmentally responsible manner possible.
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