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Northland Councils Should Support Kaipara’s Fight Against Auckland’s Dome Valley Landfill

Northland local authorities should be working together to stop the multi-million dollar Dome Valley mega landfill, an opponent of the dump says.

Michelle Carmichael, Fight the Tip, Save the Dome leader, said the proposed facility on more than 1000 hectares of land just south of Wellsford was a matter of concern for all Northlanders.

“The Kaipara Harbour connects everyone,” Carmichael said.

Carmichael’s comments came after Kaipara District Council (KDC) on Tuesday became the sole Northland council to put in submissions to Auckland Council (AC) about the proposed landfill – among 967 submissions received - with a hearing likely in October or November.

“The landfill should absolutely not go ahead. It’s a landfill on a scale we have never seen before,” Kaipara Mayor Dr Jason Smith said.

About 800,000 tonnes, about half of Auckland annual rubbish are expected for the proposed Auckland Regional Landfill site – as the city’s Redvale landfill reaches capacity in about six years.

Smith said the proposal potentially created an unwanted 1000-year legacy of Kaipara Harbour environmental damage that could not be undone.

“We will be dead and gone but the decision on this landfill will carry on,” Smith said.

“For those who are in front of us, this will be their legacy.”

The tip developer, Chinese-state-owned Waste Management NZ (WMNZ) already operates in Northland. Whangarei District Council, Far North District Council and Northland Regional Council said they would not be submitting on the tip proposal.

“The activities seeking consent fall well outside the Northland region,” Penny Smart, NRC Chair said on behalf of her council and FNDC Mayor John Carter,

“It would be unusual for us to submit on an application on a project outside our district. We trust other councils to follow the rules and do things properly in their areas, just as we do in ours,” Rob Forlong, WDC chief executive said.

KDC’s two submissions are against WMNZ’s resource consent application and rezoning of its Dome Valley land from rural-themed to special landfill land use.

The proposed landfill is roughly 10 kilometres drive south from the Topuni intersection Auckland Council shares with Northland and KDC/NRC.

It’s to cover 60 hectares, the equivalent of 60 rugby fields, in a native bush valley draining into Hoteo River’s headwaters – a major Kaipara Harbour river feeder.

Smith said heavy metals in landfill leachate would potentially poison the river and therefore the harbour.

A WMNZ spokesperson said landfill leachate would be extracted and not be discharged into streams.

Kaipara Harbour is New Zealand’s biggest enclosed harbour, its 500 hectares draining 640,000 hectares or one third of Northland.

Carmichael said the landfill’s presence just south of the border in Auckland, did not mean it was of less concern to Northlanders. Kaipara Harbour was the main snapper nursery for the fishery. Farmers, business operators and tangata whenua were among those potentially affected.

Smith said the landfill’s presence would also have significant impact on Northlanders travelling to Auckland, with 700 truck journeys a day taking rubbish to and from the landfill on SH1.

KDC councillors at their May 27 meeting hit out at WDC, FNDC and in particular NRC for failing to support their submission efforts.

But Smart defended her council.

“While we have the water quality experts that could assess the evidence, NRC staff are already fully committed to work monitoring and researching water quality in our own region, which we think is a greater priority,” Smart said.

Forlong said landfills are a far different kind of development than they were in the past and he had confidence the provisions of the RMA will protect the environment, should the landfill be approved.

Auckland rubbish is already trucked to the Northland Regional Landfill, a joint WDC/Northland Waste operation at Puwera south of Whangarei, according to an Auckland Council waste assessment report.

Smart said the proposed Dome Valley site was in a waterway catchment that did not extend into NRC’s land jurisdiction.

She understood there were concerns about impacts on the river and harbour’s cultural values. NRC was not the appropriate authority to represent these.

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