Council slammed over tip closure debacle

Lawrie Road

Auckland Council is facing a barrage of criticism for failing to let anyone know about plans to close waste transfer stations at Snells Beach and Wellsford at the end of the month.

It is understood the facilities will be closed for up to two years and no alternative arrangements are in place.

The leases on both sites are due to run out on September 30 and were put out to tender last year.

However, last month Council unexpectedly told current leaseholder Northland Waste and other tender hopefuls that the application process had been cancelled and the sites were closing for remediation work.

Northland  Waste director Ray Lambert said he was staggered to hear that the Lawrie Road and Rustybrook Road facilities would be shut.

“I wasn’t surprised that we were given notice of our lease, but it came as a complete surprise to hear they were closing sites,” he said. “If we’d lost out, fair enough, but you’d think they inevitably have to keep the facilities open for Warkworth. We knew we might be out of there, but didn’t contemplate that Council would close it.”

Rodney Local Board chair Beth Houlbrooke was also unhappy, saying the issue had been poorly handled by Council.

“The whole Local Board should have been consulted with and I have expressed my extreme displeasure we were not advised of this before reading about it on social media,” she said.

Concerns have also been raised by local residents about the likelihood of increased roadside dumping if alternative local facilities are not provided once the sites are shut, and the general lack of information and publicity around the issue.

Council’s general manager for waste solutions, Parul Sood, said preliminary site investigations had found that remediation work was needed at both sites and they needed to close them down to manage potential risks or hazards from exposing waste at the former landfills.

However, Ray Lambert said this was something Northland Waste had been trying to fix for years.

“We wrote to Council over two years ago and said the sites needed a major upgrade, and offered to do it ourselves at no cost under a new lease, or let Council have access to do the work during the remainder of our lease,” he said.

“We have a real willingness to work with Council and make sure something is available. There must be a way of solving this with a bit of innovation over the next month. We are there and we’re ready and waiting to help. We don’t want to see Warkworth without a waste transfer site.”

Parul Sood said Council was negotiating with Northland Waste about the possibility of extending the lease to the end of November, Council did not respond when Mahurangi Matters asked, even if that should happen, what alternative facilities would then be available from December onwards.

Ms Houlbrooke added that Council would be going back to the previously shortlisted lease applicants at the end of September to invite them to re-tender for a temporary, small-scale trial resource recovery centre on a small part of each site, which could potentially begin in six months’ time, depending on how remediation work progressed.

Sally Marden

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