Exporting waste 'highly unpalatable'

Chris Henderson
Chris Henderson
Dunedin city councillors have underscored their opposition to exporting rubbish from Dunedin, but council staff insist the option has to remain as the closure of the Green Island landfill looms.

Last week, the Otago Daily Times reported council staff were drawing up a contingency plan to export the city's rubbish to other centres, amid concerns the Green Island landfill's consent would expire before a replacement landfill was ready.

Options being considered ranged from seeking an extension of the existing consent, which is due to expire in 2023, to exporting the city's waste to other centres.

That concerned councillors at this week's DCC infrastructure services and networks committee meeting, and they questioned council waste and environmental solutions group manager Chris Henderson about the option.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said he found the idea ''difficult morally and culturally and environmentally and economically''.

There was a growing expectation the council would be an active guardian of the natural environment, he believed, and that was difficult to reconcile with ''making our rubbish someone else's problem''.

Cr David Benson-Pope was also against the option, saying councillors had already expressed strong views about such a move being ''highly unpalatable and potentially very offensive''.

For many councillors, the option was ''not an acceptable solution under any circumstances'', he said.

Mr Henderson accepted councillors had expressed their views, but said the option had to remain.

Some councillors also took aim at colleague Cr Jim O'Malley for suggesting the cost of establishing a new landfill at the council's preferred site at Smooth Hill could top $100million.

That was well above the $30million price tag previously suggested, and Mr Henderson told this week's meeting a $100million facility would be ''a particularly fancy landfill''.

Work was still required before a Smooth Hill landfill could be established, including fresh geotechnical work, but the total cost of a new facility there was expected to be less than $50million, he said.

Cr Hawkins also chided Cr O'Malley, saying it was not ''helpful'' to be ''plucking figures out of thin air'' and ''distracting'' from the wider debate about the city's waste future.

Cr O'Malley hit back, saying his estimate was based on the $75million estimated cost, in 2005, of establishing Canterbury's Kate Valley landfill.

He also stressed he was not criticising existing staff for past delays, but the council could no longer deny the challenge it faced in replacing the Green Island landfill.

''We have a situation where we have run out of time,'' he said.



This is a major failing by the DCC. Who is reasonable for this and will they be held accountable? The councilors on this committee can jump up and down all they like but are they not at least partially responsible for not identifying and fast tracking a solution for this problem earlier? If not then really what is the point of having this committee? The scary thing is that there still seems to be no plan of action, no leadership, only an acceptance of defeat.
''We have a situation where we have run out of time,'' he said.