Green MP Eugenie Sage has defended herself following a blistering attack by Social Credit on her decision to grant an Overseas Investment Office (OIO) consent to allow Chinese-owned Waste Management to purchase land in the Dome Valley for a proposed landfill.
Social Credit leader Chris Leitch said in a statement this month that tips were a “third world option” for rubbish disposal, while waste-to-energy plants had the potential to be “carbon negative and ecologically sound”.
Mr Leitch said Ms Sage, who was Minister for Land Information and Associate Minister for the Environment, was not even prepared to meet with an international company to talk about the potential of a waste-to-energy plant as an alternative to the proposed dump.
Mr Leitch further blasted the Green Party for supporting their MP, saying it made them the “dinosaurs of the international green movement”.
Mr Leitch said while most of the waste collected in New Zealand went into rubbish dumps, over 2000 pyrolytic plants operated across the world in countries such as Japan, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Belgium and elsewhere.
“They recover a substantial value of material from the waste stream before turning the remainder into electricity, slag for use in road building and ash,” he said.
“Emissions from the new generation plants are negligible, while rubbish dumps generated methane, said to be the worst of greenhouse gases, and have the possibility of leaching into waterways, killing fish and plant life.”
Mr Leitch said the Green Party in Germany were promoting a complete ban on land-filling by 2020.
In response, Ms Sage said the primary factor considered when granting a request to the OIO was whether the application “creates a substantial and identifiable benefit for New Zealand”.
In her view, the application did that, noting that the landfill would create 50 to 100 jobs during the period of its construction.
She added that other issues around land use and water quality would be considered in detail through the resource consent process, currently being undertaken by Auckland Council.
Ms Sage said there were many complexities and competing claims around waste-to-energy incineration.
“Such plants have a high capital cost and require substantial investment. They also require consistently high volumes of waste as a “feedstock” on an ongoing basis,” she said.
Ms Sage said material that could be recycled could end up being sent to the waste-to- energy plant as feedstock.
“Such plants also risk treating the atmosphere as a landfill,” she said.