Exporting Dunedin’s waste still an option

The proposed Smooth Hill site looking north towards Dunedin. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The proposed Smooth Hill site looking north towards Dunedin. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Building the Smooth Hill landfill could come with a $74 million price tag and an alternative idea of exporting waste out of Dunedin to a neighbouring district has not yet been dumped.

However, getting another area to accept the city’s waste would be "inappropriate, if not offensive", a city councillor said.

Another councillor said it would be "strategically naive".

The Dunedin City Council was last year granted consent to build a landfill at Smooth Hill, near Brighton, and construction could start about 2028.

The council has applied to extend the life of the Green Island landfill in the meantime.

Almost $74m of new capital was included in a 2024-34 long-term plan draft budget in December for development of the Smooth Hill facility.

This would be more than half of the $146m total new capital projected for waste management.

It would also be a 31% increase on the $56.4m budgeted in the 2021-31 long-term plan for development of the site.

A council spokeswoman said the latest figure was subject to further work to refine expected costs.

Councillors could receive a report next month covering options, "including waste export", as part of the 10-year plan process, she said.

Cr David Benson-Pope raised ethical concerns about exporting waste.

"I continue to find it inappropriate, if not offensive, to expect someone somewhere out of our patch to deal with what we throw away, regardless of what we might pay them," he said.

Environmental effects, such as carbon emissions from transport and damage to roads, did not "sit comfortably with our agreed goals".

Cr Steve Walker said he remained philosophically opposed to exporting waste.

An expanded carbon footprint would be unacceptable, he said.

"Also, having a system that cedes control and depends on others is strategically naive."

The council risked being left in the lurch, he said.

"Let's take control of how we deal with the waste we produce, for no other reason than it's the right thing to do."

The South Coast Neighbourhood Society, which has fought the proposed Smooth Hill landfill, last week called for the option of exporting waste to be properly explored.

This should be part of the council’s 10-year plan consultation, society spokeswoman Sarah Ramsay said.

Saddle Hill Community Board chairman Paul Weir said the board remained opposed to the proposed landfill.

"We’d love to see other options explored and something else happen [instead], but it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the end result," Mr Weir said.

The board planned to work with the city council to achieve a workable solution, he said.

"We don’t want a landfill in our area," Mr Weir said.

"But if it’s going to happen, we have to try to move forward."

A Smooth Hill community liaison group had its first meeting in October last year.

The council has said the group would be an important conduit between the council and community.

"The group will ensure we have open and constructive dialogue with our community regarding the landfill’s development and operation."