'We don't trust DCC': Brighton residents angry over lack of consultation

Smooth Hill, site of the proposed landfill. Photo: ODT files
Smooth Hill, site of the proposed landfill. Photo: ODT files
Potential neighbours of a proposed landfill slammed the Dunedin City Council for its arrogance and lack of consultation yesterday.

Their lawyer said the council’s consent application was incomplete and failed to meet rules to protect water quality.

The first week of hearings for the proposed Smooth Hill landfill concluded yesterday with Brighton residents presenting the independent commissioners their views on the council’s plans to dispose of Dunedin’s waste in their backyard.

Big Stone Rd resident Sarah Ramsay called herself the "ultimate Nimby" because the proposed landfill would only be 1km down the road.

However, because of the fear many in the community had for the future of the popular Brighton Beach, and the ecologically sensitive Otokia Creek, her group of submitters together fundraised more than $20,000 to pay experts and lawyers to represent them.

Mrs Ramsay and her husband took out a mortgage against their house to fund their fight.

"As a community we feel under siege. We don’t trust the DCC and they’ve done absolutely nothing to alleviate that fear," she said.

"Their total unwillingness to engage in meaningful consultation with our community is arrogant at best, outright bullying at worst."

Shane Turner said he moved into his Big Stone Rd home in 2016 and later learnt about the proposal from a neighbour.

When he contacted the council in early 2020, he was told he was not considered an affected resident, he said.

Big Rock Primary School principal David Grant said his school would discontinue school programmes at the beach and along the creek if the consent was granted.

Otokia Creek and Marsh Habitat Trust chairman Simon Laing said the restoration work of the trust was not in any way intended to offset the effects of the proposed landfill.

New national environmental rules came into effect in the days after the council filed its first application in August 2020, the submitters group lawyer, Gallaway Cook Allan partner Bridget Irving, said.

When the council filed its amended application last year, it was "abundantly clear" further consents were required.

The commissioners had to decide whether the application needed to be deferred until the council applied for those consents, she said.

At issue was the new freshwater management policy statement.

"And as has been said many, many, many times before, this policy statement and its regulatory tools represent a paradigm shift in freshwater management.

"To allow the applicant to dodge that regime risks undermining the purpose of the national policy statement for freshwater management."

The proposal was rightly a non-complying activity, and because it should face a higher bar, it should be declined, she said.

EHS Support New Zealand principal environmental chemist Andrew Rumsby said a "comprehensive site-specific assessment of the effects on the environment" had not been done.

The council had not done an assessment of the risk for substances that accumulated over time in living things.

He recounted council experts saying pollutants leaving the landfill would become more diluted the further away they were from the landfill.

"That’s simply not true for a bio-accumulative substance. They bio-accumulate through the food chain and the issues are dietary toxicity issues."

Wildland Consultants ecologist Kelvin Lloyd contested council experts’ evidence that effects would be non-existent outside the immediately affected area.

He said landfill leachate commonly carried manufactured chemicals that could accumulate in wildlife such as crustaceans and eels in Otokia Creek.

The council is due to reply next Wednesday.

Comments

Vote the clown show out at the next election there's a good start.

 

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