Consent granted for Smooth Hill landfill

Consent has been granted for a landfill at the Smooth Hill site, south of Dunedin city. Photo:...
Consent has been granted for a landfill at the Smooth Hill site, south of Dunedin city. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Consent has been granted for Dunedin’s next municipal landfill, south of the city at Smooth Hill.

Independent commissioners today issued a 137-page decision in which they determined the public health risk at nearby Brighton was acceptable, concerns raised by Dunedin Airport around bird strike had been addressed, and community concerns around a lack of consultation were met through the information presented at the hearing.

Commissioners Rob van Voorthuysen, Jan Caunter and Rosalind Day-Cleavin said the potential adverse effects of the proposal were either minor, minimised to the extent practicable or were otherwise suitably avoided, remedied, mitigated or offset by the imposition of the conditions of the consent.

The proposal was further generally consistent with the relevant planning rules and any inconsistencies were minor and did not weigh against a grant of consent.

Sandy Graham
Dunedin City Council chief executive Sandy Graham. File photo
Dunedin City Council chief executive Sandy Graham welcomed the news in a statement this afternoon.

"While we were always confident that we had a solid case, we are pleased with the decision.

"It is a result of long-term planning for important infrastructure and the calibre of the work involved from the DCC team.

"It is acknowledged that community members and stakeholders have contributed a lot of time to making submissions to let us know what they think.

"In responding to a range of points raised during the public submission and hearing process, we have further refined our plans and conditions, which will mean a great result for the city as a whole. 

"While we aim towards a zero waste, circular economy, it is essential to have a consented option that enables the city to take responsibility for dealing with its waste for decades to come."

Presently city waste is disposed of at the Green Island Landfill, but that site’s capacity is nearing an end. 

On the council’s website, the council says it expected the new Smooth Hill landfill near Brighton to start operating in 2026, and it had budgeted $56 million from 2024-25 to 2028-29 to make that happen. 

The council lodged its resource consent application to operate a landfill with the Otago Regional Council in late August last year. 

Proceedings at the hearing in May were largely focused on two groups: a group of submitters from Brighton who raised concerns about the city council’s process and the impact a landfill would have on the area, including Brighton Beach; and Dunedin Airport, 4.5km from the proposed site, which raised concerns about the effect that birds attracted to the landfill could have on its operations.

In its reply the city council said it had selected an excellent site south of Dunedin to deal with the waste produced by the city.