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Auckland Mayor Bins Talk Of City’s Rubbish Fuelling Kaipara Plant

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown is pouring cold water on talk of his council’s rubbish going north to a proposed $730 million Kaipara waste to energy plant.

This comes as a Kaipara waste to energy plant opponent challenges Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson's indications that Auckland rubbish will fuel the controversial $730 million Northland-based industrial facility, along with a much-smaller amount from the North.

Stop the Kaipara Waste Incinerator member and Kaipara ratepayer Jane Reed, who has waste management experience, said Auckland rubbish was not in line to head north.

Under the proposal, Auckland rubbish would make up about 95 per cent of the WtE plant’s fuel and be essential to the plant’s existence. The balance would come from Northland.

An Auckland Council Official Information Act (OIA) request response to Reed formally confirmed Brown had discussed the proposed waste to energy plant with Jepson.

But it said Auckland Council had not entered into any negotiations with KDC or the plant’s proponents, neither was there any timeline for sending Auckland’s rubbish to Kaipara.

Local Democracy Reporting Northland asked Mayor Brown for his position on sending his city’s rubbish to the Kaipara plant.

An artist's impression of the south Canterbury waste to energy plant that the company also linked to Kaipara's waste to energy plant wants to build. Photo supplied via LDR.
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The mayor's spokesperson said Brown visited Jepson on other matters, and the plant and its technology were discussed as a matter of interest, but no plans or decisions had come of the meeting.

It was not an Auckland Council project and Brown had not committed any of Auckland’s rubbish going to the Kaipara WtE plant, the spokesperson said.

Jepson said securing Auckland’s waste was essential for building the Kaipara plant.

He said sourcing the waste fuel for the Kaipara WtE would be part of the necessary due diligence for building the plant.

An Auckland Council spokesperson said that council was aware of KDC’s desire for a waste to energy plant in Northland, however, it was not leading the project, nor did it have any role in its development.

“In principle, Auckland is interested in new waste minimisation technology that can minimise waste sent to landfill,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said most of Auckland’s waste sent to landfill was commercial and collected and processed by private waste companies.

KDC is working with majority-overseas owned South Island Resource Recovery Limited (SIRRL) on its potential WtE plant for Kaipara. The same company is pushing to build a WtE plant near Waimate, south Canterbury. A decision on this is with the Environment Court.

SIRRL had presented to Auckland Council last year, the spokesperson said.

“The South Island Resource Recovery Limited (SIRRL) presented their Waimate concept to Auckland late last year. This was a learning and information exercise, but that has been the extent of our participation to date,” the Auckland spokesperson said.

Jepson said he was not concerned by Auckland Council’s current position.

“I think it’s early days yet, they’re not going to have a proper response until there is an application (to build the WtE plant) from a private entity,” Jepson said.

Auckland Council’s waste policy ran until 2028 and it would take three years to build the WtE plant in Kaipara, he said.

Jepson said he had not had conversations with the private waste companies which manage Northland and Auckland’s rubbish disposal.

Reed’s OIA response said Auckland Council’s new draft waste minimisation plan included that waste to energy production took many forms “and that some proposals such as capturing landfill gas and energy from anaerobic digestion of food scraps may be appropriate”.

However, other more complex proposals such as the proposed Kaipara WtE plant would have impacts which would need to be assessed against Auckland's waste minimisation goals. These included Auckland being zero waste by 2040.

Far North and Whangārei district council mayors were also recently lukewarm on their rubbish going to the Kaipara WtE plant.

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