Consent granted for controversial Southland mega-landfill

A controversial central Southland mega-landfill has been granted consent.

AB Lime, near Winton, has been allowed to operate without any limit on the amount of waste it can take for the next 25 years.

The waste will come from all over the southern South Island.

The landfill footprint, overall capacity, final finished profile and overall physical area of the landfill will not change from what is already authorised by existing consents.

Independent commissioner Allan Cubitt released his decision to grant resource consents this afternoon, following a hearing in May.

AB Lime applied for six new consents and to vary an existing consent for its site at Kings Bend, about four kilometres east of Winton.

There has been a landfill at the site for more than 15 years, as well as a well-established limestone quarry.

Under the new consents approved, the landfill footprint, overall capacity, final finished profile and overall physical area of the landfill do not change from those already authorised by the existing consents.

Opponents to the plan said waste should stay in the district it was created, and an unlimited landfill was not good for the Winton community.

Specifically, their worries included toxic waste, “unbearable” odour, potential health consequences, possible road damage, truck movements and noise.

Reasons given for Cubitt’s decision included that removing a waste limit for an existing landfill was considered efficient land use and preferable to establishing a new landfill at an alternative location and that the proposal would use landfill gas for energy conversion to power the lime kilns, creating a positive overall effect on air quality.

”Overall, I conclude that the proposal is an efficient use of an established piece of the region’s critical infrastructure. Its ongoing use and development will take place under much improved management procedures that will enable evolving waste disposal technology and methodology to be utilised when it becomes available. This will ensure that any adverse effects that may be experienced by the community will be no more than minor,” he said in the decision.

Acting consents manager Bruce Halligan said the council understood there were some strong concerns about the new consents sought for the landfill.

“We want to thank the submitters, including tangata whenua, for sharing their views with the council. Their feedback was carefully considered through the decision process. Commissioner Cubitt was also supported by technical advice from independent landfill and air quality experts.

“Extensive conditions have been included in relation to matters such as odour management and receipt of special waste, to recognise the submitters’ concerns.”

Some of the conditions include:

• A requirement for monitoring equipment to be installed for the continuous monitoring of hydrogen sulphide gas, to mitigate the potential for odour issues

• A condition specifying a maximum oxygen level to be maintained within the landfill, to minimise the potential for landfill fires

• Conditions relating to the types of waste which may be received and the conditions around this receipt to ensure these are appropriately managed

Some concerns raised by submitters were outside of the scope of matters which Commissioner Cubitt could consider, Halligan said, and/or sat within the jurisdiction of the Southland District Council which had a concurrent application from AB Lime.

The applicant and submitters have 15 working days to appeal the decision to the Environment Court.

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