Farmers Dig Deep In Pockets To Fight Dump
18 AUGUST 2000
FARMERS DIG DEEP IN POCKETS TO FIGHT DUMP
As the battle to put a giant landfill on the Waikato riverside in North Waikato heads for the Environment Court in two weeks' time, local farmers and residents are having to make sacrifices to keep up their opposition.
"It has been a good year for stock at long last. But if only I hadn't had to spend so much time and money on the dump case," said David Saxton, who exports prime beef and venison from his 570 acre farm.
He is backing a local environmental group in its case. "The farm has suffered. But I just feel I have to do it. Who's going to look after the land, if we don't."
"Local people can't sell since the dump proposal," said Mike Finlayson, whose farm is nextdoor to the riverside dump site. "People who need to sell their properties are just not getting buyers." He said he finally sold a piece of his farm after years of trying, but at a reduced price.
Wendy Finlayson, a farm worker living near to the site who is one of the individual appellants in the case against EnviroWaste,has collected thousands of signatures opposing the dump. She said people in the community were keen to get information.
"Consultation was so poor," she said. "Maori in particular were unaware of the dump's real location, and were horrified. Nobody had considered their kaitiakitanga, sense of guardianship of the river. Lots of people felt left out."
Ms Finlayson says she has built up a bill of $16,000 in legal aid that must be repaid eventually.
Shell (NZ) Ltd, the dominant private shareholder in the dump project through its 38% stake in Fulton Hogan Ltd, is facing a dump protest at a Shell station opposite the Hamilton Court this weekend. Shell's recent environmental record in Nigeria is expected to be raised. An organiser said Shell has threatened to sue if they display a Shell logo.
Though nobody wants a dump near them, the stakes are high for landfill developers round the world. A landfill company in Nevada called Silver Star recently sold for US$378 million (NZ $840 million). The value of its Las Vegas citywide 15 year garbage contract was said to be US$3 billion ($6.6 billion NZ).
The Auckland landfill company pushing the dump proposal complains it has had to spend half a million dollars so far, but opponents say that is nothing compared to property value losses suffered in the district because of the dump proposal. EnviroWaste, the hopeful owner of the proposed new 30 million tonne Waikato riverside landfill has had a team of Auckland lawyers and barrister Paul Cavanagh QC working on the case for over a year, and its paid witness list keeps getting longer.
"Paperwork and study - I hate it. I'd rather be out grubbing thistles," said Wendy Finlayson sadly, as she worked on a pile of Court paperwork.
"Standing up for my country and my community and doing what's right," she said, "I've never had a debt in my life, and I've got a bill like that. But people can't control nature - nature is stronger than the waste company, and the big threat is to the water in the river, Auckland's future drinking water."
Wendy Finlayson 07 826 3458 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Land Air Water Association Incorporated
c/- Mrs Lyn Milnes, 23 Hampton Downs Road, Te Kauwhata RD2, Nth Waikato
Telephone or fax: (+64 +7) 826 3080