Agreement to consider weighbridge for landfill

Laura McElhone.
Laura McElhone.
Councillors under fire from Dunedin residents about fees at the Green Island landfill have agreed to at least consider a weighbridge option.

The option would provide for a second weighbridge at Green Island Landfill - there is already one for commercial customers - providing for a weigh-in, weigh-out system.

Vehicles would be weighed on the way in to the landfill and on the way out and people charged for the difference in the weight, that being the amount of waste they had disposed of.

There could be two separate fees, for green waste and general waste, and a minimum fee for very light loads.

Staff have indicated the weighbridge, which would cost $150,000, could be paid for and installed this year, by deferring capital expenditure already planned for this year.

Councillors, many of who said people had complained to them about recent changes that removed any discretion in charging people and were often perceived as unfair, were also offered an option of a fees review that would refine the grading of charges.

They asked for a report outlining all the implications of a weighbridge, after which they would make a decision on whether to consult people on having one installed.

Several councillors outlined reservations that a weighbridge was not necessarily the best way to go or an unnecessary expense, when booth operators could be trained better and more levels of charging could be introduced, based on the volume of rubbish people were bringing in, rather than the weight.

Cr Mike Lord said more common sense needed to be applied to present charging system and Cr Lee Vandervis asked staff if it was possible to charge for half loads, or have a little more discretion.

Council water and waste group manager Laura McElhone said in their experience that did not work, people could drive up with a similar load different days and be charged different rates.

Asked by Cr Chris Staynes, who was concerned a weighbridge was an overreaction to a situation that could be resolved with better training of booth operators, she said if the council wanted security around budget targets, a weighbridge was the way to go and was not subject to questioning, the way discretion on volumes was.

Cr Kate Wilson said she would prefer to see the money invested in educating people to dispose of less waste or dispose of it correctly.

Cr Andrew Noone said moving towards a weighing system was clearly more fair and equitable.

''It takes that guesswork away from staff and customers will have a greater faith in the council delivering a service that does what it says its doing.''

Cr John Bezett said people would feel they were being treated equally with a weighbridge.

''And I think that's really the nub of the issue.''

Cr Jinty MacTavish said she was not convinced charging by weight was the way to get a system that really worked, but she would support the resolution to ask for a report with more detail.

Cr Wilson said she would not because it took the council no further down the road to minimising waste.

Others said they wanted to see a report detailing the implications of the weighbridge option before taking it any further, and asked that one be made ready for the February meeting of the council's infrastructure services committee.

The present charges will remain in place until a decision about which way to go is made.debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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