A planning consultant for Auckland Council has recommended that commissioners who will consider a resource consent application for a landfill in the Dome Valley reject the application.
Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers said that planner Mark Ross’ views represented the official position of Auckland Council.
In his report to the commissioners published last week, Mr Ross said that to establish the landfill 14km of streams would need to be reclaimed. He said a proposed management package designed to mitigate the ecological effects of the reclamation would be insufficient and “residual adverse effects are likely to remain”.
“Furthermore, there is uncertainty that some of the compensation measures detailed within the effects management package will achieve the ecological benefits proposed,” Mr Ross wrote.
Mr Ross said this was not acceptable, particularly in circumstances where the ecological value of the streams being reclaimed were “very high”.
He said proposed works would result in adverse effects on Hochstetter’s frogs, fernbird, spotless crake and the Australasian bittern.
Mr Ross added that there were also cultural effects to consider, an evaluation of which could only be undertaken once these matters had been presented by Mana Whenua to the commissioners at the resource consent hearing.
Mr Ross concluded that the landfill would not meet the requirements of the Resource Management Act.
“Unless further evidence is presented at the hearing that alters this assessment, I recommend that consent be refused,” he wrote.
Despite his recommendation, Mr Ross rejected a key argument of those opposing the landfill, namely that leachate would likely leak from the landfill site and contaminate the environment, including the Kaipara Harbour.
Mr Ross wrote that the construction of a quality landfill lining system and a leachate collection and disposal system would ensure that any leachate would be highly unlikely to leak into the surrounding environment.
He added that rigorous monitoring would ensure that any leaks that did occur could be identified and remediated.
Mr Ross also rejected the view that increased truck movements bringing waste to the landfill would constitute a safety hazard.
He said the proposed location on State Highway 1 would ensure the landfill would be readily accessible and that upgrades being undertaken along the State Highway would ensure traffic safety was not compromised.
Cr Sayers said although Mr Ross’ recommendation to commissioners to refuse the application was a big win for those campaigning against the landfill in the Dome, it was not the final word on the subject.
However, he anticipated the recommendation would carry a lot of weight.
Nevertheless, Council has also made a recommendation to commissioners on Waste Management’s private plan change application to allow zoning of the land to switch from rural production to a special landfill precinct, with conditions.
If commissioners follow Council recommendations and refuse the resource consent application but allowed the private plan change, Waste Management could apply again for a resource consent, as landfill on the site would then be classed as a discretionary activity, rather than non-complying as it is at present.
The commissioners will consider both applications during hearings to be held at the Warkworth Town Hall. The hearings will commence on November 12 and continue into mid-December.