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Auckland Conservation Board Disappointed With Decision To Approve Resource Consent Application For Wayby Valley Landfill

The Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland Conservation Board (ACB) is disappointed with the news that an application for a resource consent for a new Class 1 landfill in the Wayby Valley, north of Auckland, has been approved.

The majority of the Hearing Panel, charged by the Auckland Council with hearing the evidence and submissions, were satisfied, subject to some amendments, that the effects on the environment of the construction and operation of the new landfill are acceptable and consistent with all the relevant planning and strategic documents guiding the use and development of landfills in the Auckland region. The Panel also stated that, at a broader level, the project as a whole will achieve a number of important Auckland regional policy statement objectives related to infrastructure.

For the majority of the Panel, the proposal by the applicant to place the landfill in a steeply sided valley at the centre of a very large site, with good design, construction and operational management, and extensive environmental mitigation, were key features of the application that weighed in its favour.

The majority found that the extensive, multi-layered actions to be taken to contain and safely dispose of landfill leachate were of particular importance when coming to their conclusions.

In its submission, the Board expressed concern about the choice of the site due to several reasons, namely the serious impact on a number of threated species, as well as concerns about the increased risk of sediment flow from the site into the region’s waterways.

The Board also shared its concerns as to why the applicant (Waste Management) hadn’t put forward other site options; or, why existing landfills at Redvale, Whitford or Hampton Downs, which already service the Auckland region, were not selected for expansion.

Nicola MacDonald, ACB Chair says the Board maintains it has grave concerns a Class 1 landfill will have an incredibly detrimental effect on the both the immediate environment, and the wider region.

Ms MacDonald says that urban development across the region is already having a major impact on sediment discharges into waterways; and, adverse rainfall events are forecast to be increasingly intense and more frequent under most scenarios for climate change in the region.

“We remain concerned that a significant rainfall event may lead to discharge of sediment into the catchment, which ultimately has a flow on effect to all connected waterways, including the already massively overloaded Kaipara Harbour,” says Ms MacDonald.

“We are talking about pristine land being turned into landfill, at a time when we should be working towards waste minimisation and more sustainable waste to energy options – not just viewing landfills as the only waste management solution.

“This is a deeply disappointing decision where economic growth has come before, and at the expense of Te Taiao (earth, environment). This decision sets back the health of the whenua and awa back to the point of no return. It is absolutely destructive to the cultural wellbeing of Ngāti Manuhiri and Ngāti Whatua as kaitiaki,” says Ms MacDonald.

In total 981 submissions were received, of those 958 were in opposition, and 10 in support, and 13 neutral/indeterminate.

 

Threatened species

The planned landfill site is home for a range of species, which are already facing an uncertain future, and which are on the Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland Conservation Board’s short list of the most at risk species in our rohe. These include the New Zealand long tailed Bat, Australasian Bittern, Hocthstetter’s Frog.

There are species present at the site that are already endangered, and the Board is extremely concerned that some species will be lost from the property and adjacent habitats, even with the best management and mitigation programmes. For many species, the effects would go beyond direct habitat losses. The plan change would foreshadow increased levels of noise, light and habitat fragmentation

The Hōteo River

In addition to these negative environmental impacts, the Board also states that the area has significant cultural and historical value to mana whenua.

On the map provided by the applicant the Hōteo River was hardly visible. However, the river cannot be airbrushed out in reality. The proposal will infill about 14km of intermittent and perennial stream habitat, and 5km of ephemeral stream. Proposed offsets will not directly address the permanent habitat loss or effects on indigenous species of significant reductions in habitat availability.

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