Smooth Hill landfill: Council omits pivotal details

Smooth Hill, site of the proposed landfill. Photo: ODT files
Smooth Hill, site of the proposed landfill. Photo: ODT files
The end date of a hearing set to decide the fate of a proposed landfill near Brighton is now unknown after commissioners agreed the Dunedin City Council had left out crucial details from its plan.

Sarah Ramsay
Sarah Ramsay
Commissioners have adjourned proceedings in the council’s bid to establish a landfill at Smooth Hill so the council can complete an assessment of the health risks the landfill could pose for Otokia Creek.

Chairman Rob van Voorthuysen said a "quantitative public health risk assessment" was requested by the commissioners to help them consider issues raised by submitters who enjoyed the creek and Brighton Beach where the creek went into the sea.

A city council spokesman said yesterday while the commissioners had not given the council a deadline for the assessment the council aimed to produce one "as soon as possible".

In a minute on Wednesday, Mr van Voorthuysen informed the city council, the Otago Regional Council and a group of submitters from Brighton who oppose the landfill, that the assessment would comprise new evidence.

As such, the city council was asked to give its report to the lawyer for the Brighton group.

Its experts would have five days to respond.

The regional council’s consultant would then have another five days to comment on the city council’s assessment, the hearing minute said.

The Brighton group fundraised to pay for legal assistance and experts to push back on the city council’s landfill proposal after saying the council had been unwilling to engage with the community.

One of the group’s experts, EHS Support New Zealand principal environmental chemist Andrew Rumsby, who was involved recently with setting criteria for what waste could be accepted at the AB Lime landfill in Southland, told commissioners last week that in his view an assessment of the effects on the environment had not been done for the proposed site.

The council had not done an assessment of the risk related to manufactured chemicals that accumulated over time in living things.

These would be accepted at the landfill and could cause toxicity issues through the food chain if they entered the creek, he said.

Brighton group member Sarah Ramsay said yesterday that for the commissioners to ask the city council to produce an assessment such as this at this stage of the process indicated community consultation had been lacking.

"I think it was a glaringly obvious omission in the first place that this was not done," Mrs Ramsay said.

She believed an assessment of the "social impact" a landfill would have on the area was also missing.

Yesterday, Mr van Voorthuysen said normally hearings commissioners did not talk to the media, as that was the role of the regional council.

But the city council’s end-of-hearing reply to submitters’ concerns would be provided in writing in due course, he said.

Commissioners would then decide whether they needed to reconvene the hearing to ask questions of the council or whether at that stage they would close the hearing and proceed to making their decision on the proposal.

Over the course of the hearing, the city council heard many concerns about the proposal, including the risk it posed to aviation safety if it attracted birds and whether the council had applied for its consents appropriately in light of new environmental standards to protect fresh water.

As the regional council’s consultant outlined her view that the application for a landfill at Smooth Hill should be declined, hearing commissioner Jan Caunter turned to the city council’s lawyer and said the city council’s response to submitters needed to be robust.

"Please be mindful that a number of concerns have been raised with the applicant along the way and we are looking for a comprehensive response from you on those," she said.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

Comments

Hard to believe the DCC would try to push through an idea without proper consultation or due diligence. Can someone please remind me why we pay our rates to these people? The heavy laden top of highly paid "managers" certainly haven't earned their salary on this one.

When you have the Labour Party and the Green Party controlling the public debate and being directed by Wellington why are we surprised at such crass errors? Time to remove party hacks from influencing local issues. Especially such challenged ones as our Party based councillors
Roll on October.

 

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