Tension rises over proposed landfill site

The fundamental opposition of the Saddle Hill Community Board to the Dunedin City Council’s proposed landfill site at Smooth Hill, near Brighton, led to a tense exchange a last week’s board meeting.

DCC Waste and Environmental Solutions group manager Chris Henderson reported to the board that council had submitted its application for consent to operate a landfill at the site to Otago Regional Council.

There would be an extension to the processing time for the consent, as there was a lot of technical information to be assessed, as well as a planned visit to the site by ORC staff and experts, Mr Henderson said.

Asked by board chairman Scott Weatherall if council was investigating alternative options to the Smooth Hill site, Mr Henderson said some options had been investigated as part of the business case for the landfill.

Mr Weatherall queried the lack of community consultation before the consent application was lodged, saying that Mr Henderson had agreed this would be done at the board’s meeting in March.

Mr Henderson disputed that he had agreed to consultation, saying his memory of the March meeting differed.

When asked by Mr Weatherall if the DCC appreciated the value of Otokia Creek to the Brighton community, Mr Henderson declined to answer.

"The research we have done as part of technical documents around Smooth Hill applications takes everything into account . . .

"Whether the DCC considers the creek to [be of] a certain standard of importance, I can’t answer that question."

Board member Keith McFadyen asked Mr Henderson if he could reveal a second option for the landfill site, but was told "no" due to commercial sensitivity.

The discussion then moved on to to broader waste matters, including the report on public consultation on the city’s kerbside collection and waste reduction plan.

Thanking Mr Henderson for his attendance, Mr Weatherall acknowledged that it was a challenging time and that the board was "mandated by our community to represent them, and that’s at complete odds with Dunedin City Council [on the Smooth Hill issue]".

Mr Henderson said he appreciated the position the board was in, which was "unenviable on all sides to be fair".

In other business, the board heard from resident Brian Cashmere, who raised concerns about road safety.

The board also granted an application for $500 towards native planting at Brighton Domain by local group Positive Planting.

After discussion of the pros and cons of contributing funds to the upgrade of the car park at Kaikorai Estuary, the board committed $5000 to the project, with John Moyle voting against.

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