Public outcry forces Council re-think on waste closure

Rodney Local Board chair Beth Houlbrooke, Northland Waste director Ray Lambert and Councillor Greg Sayers all met with Council waste and engineering heads last week to lobby against closing the transfer stations.

Auckland Council has been forced to backtrack over plans to temporarily close the waste transfer stations at Snells Beach and Wellsford at the end of the month, following a public outcry and angry protests over the lack of notice or provision of alternative facilities.

Councillor Greg Sayers and Rodney Local Board chair Beth Houlbrooke called an urgent meeting with Council’s general manager of waste solutions, Parul Sood, and its chief engineer, Sarah Sinclair, on Monday, September 10, and came out confident that both sites would stay open for another six to nine months before remediation work started.

“Auckland Council has backpedalled and the transfer stations will now remain open,” Cr Sayers said.

“This is a big win for the community.

“At some stage mid-next year, the sites will require significant upgrading and may be temporarily closed. However, Council will now provide a convenient alternative drop off point people can use.”  

Beth Houlbrooke was slightly more circumspect, as final details had to be worked out with current operator Northland Waste, but she felt it was “extremely likely” she and Cr Sayers had managed to delay the closure.

“The good news is that we have got a stay of execution,” she said. “I’m pretty confident that they won’t be closed on September 30, and we’ve got six to nine months’ breathing space. It gives them more time to set something up and gives us more time to think about all the implications.”

Cr Sayers added that once the transfer stations had been remediated and renovated, waste management operators would be given the opportunity to tender for their operation, and there would be options for community groups to partner with them or set up separately for resource recovery.

Prior to the meeting, Cr Sayers sent a lengthy letter to the Mayor Phil Goff, and Council chief executive Stephen Town criticising Council’s handling of the issue, saying there had been a “complete communications vacuum”. The Warkworth Area Liaison Group sent a similarly critical letter after its recent meeting.

Northland Waste director Ray Lambert met with the same officials as Cr Sayers and Ms Houlbrooke on Tuesday, September 11 and said afterwards he appreciated both representatives’ efforts in trying to find a good outcome for the community and all concerned.

“We have had a constructive meeting with Council and are optimistic of reaching an agreement that will allow transitional facilities for the community,” he said.

Parul Sood agreed, saying Council was working with Northland Waste to ensure there was no disruption to services, although details still had to be ironed out as Mahurangi Matters went to press.

“We had a good constructive meeting with Northland Waste,” she said. “We are still working towards how we can best serve the community and their needs. We are working together and trying to have a good solution. Both the Council and Northland Waste wants to make sure there is no service disruption.”

Ms Sood added that Council would ensure in future that plans and proposals concerning the waste transfer stations would be publicised.

“When we conclude the discussions, we will come back to you. We don’t want confusion,” she said.

“We are working on that and that’s something we have talked about. We are definitely looking at service continuation and not having any gaps.”

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