Background: What and Why?
What is the proposed Auckland Regional Landfill?
Waste Management is proposing to build a new landfill for Auckland located approximately 70km from Auckland’s central business district. The entrance to the landfill will be 13km north of Warkworth and 6km south of Wellsford, with access directly off the current State Highway 1. Waste Management currently operates the Redvale Landfill and Energy Park at Dairy Flat, which is consented to accept waste through to 2028. Depending on how quickly capacity at Redvale is used, a replacement facility is expected to be required between 2026 and 2028. A new landfill would form part of the region's critical infrastructure, necessary to meet Auckland's growth.
Read a brochure about the proposal here or visit the Waste Management website for more detail on the proposal at www.wastemanagement.co.nz/arl. If you would like to know more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0800 927 837.
Why is a new landfill required in Auckland? Isn't there an aspiration for zero waste by 2040?
The Auckland Council area currently contains two operating landfill facilities for waste disposal – Redvale Landfill and Energy Park in the north and Whitford Landfill in the south-east. These landfills are already partially full and they have a limited lifespan.
Auckland Council’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan projects that the region's waste will grow through to 2060. Auckland will need an environmentally safe and secure site for disposal of this waste. The proposed landfill, if approved, is designed to meet this need.
Other alternatives to a landfill for Auckland
Why does a new landfill have to be located in Auckland – can’t we put it far away from residents?
A large part of the consideration for the location of a landfill is the transport of this waste from where it is created to the landfill itself. Transporting waste vast distances is both uneconomic and environmentally irresponsible due to the financial cost and the carbon impact. Waste Management's proposed site location has been identified as it is far enough away from neighbours to manage impacts as much as possible, yet close enough to Auckland to reduce the transport impacts.
Aren’t there new better technologies Waste Management could be exploring to deal with waste? Aren’t landfills old technology?
Waste Management’s current facility at Redvale is a $200 million investment in clean-tech sustainable waste management. Redvale Landfill and Energy Park has no open mounds. The waste material is contained in the landfill and naturally produces methane gas. This gas is captured by a network of hybrid wells inside the landfill, and is used to generate enough electricity to power 12,000 homes in Auckland. By the end of the year, this will increase to 14,000 homes. That makes Waste Management the largest renewable energy producer in Auckland.
This gas capture technology has the added benefit of capturing more than 95% of the methane gas, stopping it from entering the atmosphere.
Redvale sets the industry standard in the use of environmentally sustainable practices. We’ve won major environmental awards and attracted interest from engineers and practitioners all over the world.
Has Waste Management considered incineration as an option instead of landfill?
Like Australia and the US, landfills have been the preferred method for waste disposal in New Zealand.
Incineration is a chosen method of disposal used in parts of Europe, due to a number of factors. This includes the larger, denser populations in Europe, who generate the large volumes of waste in concentrated towns and cities that are required to continuously feed an incinerator.
The incinerators are generally built close to the towns and cities creating the waste. These same towns and cities are reliant on the electricity generated from the incinerator.
In New Zealand, we don't have these large, densely populated cities and towns. We also have plenty of sustainable electricity generation through geothermal and hydroelectricity.
Incinerators also still have a waste stream (ash), which is generally taken to landfill.
Finally, one of the negatives of waste incineration is the continuous long-term need for more waste to keep the incinerator plant working. This goes against the aspirations we have here in New Zealand for zero waste.
However, should local and central government indicate a desire for waste-to-energy solutions, Waste Management will support this goal.
Site and location
What are your proposed plans for the Springhill property?
We have not determined what our exact plans are for the Springhill Estate, but there will be no waste placed on the Springhill property.
At the public Open Days some points were not shown on the map. Why?
The purpose of the Open Days was to make initial contact with the public and to listen to feedback about the proposed landfill. This feedback will be addressed in further detail as the proposal progresses.
The map that was displayed at the first two Open Days was designed to illustrate significant aspects of the proposed landfill. Key surrounding features such as the Hoteo River, State Highway 1, the closest towns of Warkworth and Wellsford were included as local landmarks that would be familiar reference points to the local community.
There was feedback after the first Open Days that the map should have included all waterways and streams. This information is now available here.
Will leachate from the site end up in the Kaipara Harbour?
The waste from the landfill will be fully contained by a purpose designed and constructed landfill lining system. The lining system protects the surrounding environment from contamination from leachate as well as controls the entrance of groundwater.
The leachate is collected in pipes, then extracted from the landfill and treated. No leachate will be discharged into streams.
The selected lining system is physically designed to provide containment for hundreds of years after the landfill stops receiving waste, by which time leachate is not being created, and no longer poses a risk to the environment.
Could this affect fish stocks on the West Coast or the Wellsford town water?
Best practice stormwater management techniques will be designed and constructed for the landfill to mitigate potential environmental effects on the surrounding environment.
Any clean stormwater upstream of the landfill will be diverted around the waste.
Downstream of the landfill there will be a series of stormwater management ponds (dams) and wetlands. These will be designed to remove sediment before it is filtered by wetlands and released to streams onsite and eventually into the Hoteo River (approximately 3km away from the end of the landfill).
We will constantly monitor the quality and volumes of stormwater and will be required to report regularly to Auckland Council.
The area covered by the proposed landfill footprint will be less than 0.25% of the catchment for the Hoteo River.
Why isn't Waste Management protecting oxygen creating areas rather than cutting down trees?
We will be replacing any pine trees that need to be harvested for the proposed landfill as well as planting additional trees. An area of 100ha has been set aside for off-set re-planting of pine trees.
We will also protect significant areas of indigenous vegetation and fauna with a covenant to protect them into the future. In addition, riparian planting and fencing will be undertaken to stop stock entering the Hoteo River where we have a boundary on the river.
The 2001 Ministry for the Environment (MfE) “A Guideline for the Management of Closing and Closed Landfills in New Zealand” (Guideline) references Tonkin and Taylor – Waste Management’s consultants on the project – stating that leachate leaking from landfills caused adverse effects on ground and surface water, which would cause significant concerns for iwi and local communities. What is Waste Management’s view on that?
The 2001 Ministry for the Environment (MfE) document “A Guideline for the Management of Closing and Closed Landfills in New Zealand” (Guideline) was published by MfE in 2001. It was prepared as a direct result of MfE’s 1998/99 National Landfill Census (98/99 Landfill Census), which covered both open and closed municipal landfills, dedicated landfills and cleanfills, and sought to establish the current state of landfill management practice in New Zealand at that time.
Importantly it recognised (in Clause 1.1.1) that “Until the 1980s most New Zealand landfills were no more than tip/dump sites, which were often poorly sited, designed and managed”.
None of these tips/dumps were lined or had leachate/landfill gas management systems. It was only since the introduction of the RMA in 1991 that disposal sites were required to retrospectively seek resource consents in order to continue operating.
Clearly these retrospective consents were not able to require liners to be constructed under historical waste and so these dumps/tips (subsequently referred to as landfills) would continue to leak during their operational and post closure life.
All new disposal sites post the introduction of the RMA in 1991 have been required to meet significantly higher engineered standards which were effectively set by the Redvale and Whitford landfills, noting these were consented under the Town and Country Planning Act at the time of the RMA coming into force.
Since then, the 98/99 Landfill Census showed that while there had been some improvement since the earlier 1995 Landfill Census, the standard of landfills and landfill management practice in New Zealand was still not good enough. These results stimulated the development of the Ministry’s Landfill Management Programme, which had a stated set of objectives including:
- all landfills to be consented and compliant with consent conditions
- landfill consent conditions to reflect nationally consistent standards of environmental management
- all landfills to be managed by appropriately trained operators
- closed landfill sites to be monitored and effectively managed.
At the time of the 98/99 Landfill Census, the exact number of closed landfills throughout the country was unknown, but was thought to be well in excess of 1000. A significant percentage (30-35%) of closed landfill sites did not have a closure or aftercare plan, but this was thought to reflect the fact that many of the older sites were closed some years before 1998 when such plans were not identified as necessary for good practice. Additionally, some closed landfills did not have the necessary or appropriate resource consents.
In May 2000, the Centre for Advanced Engineering Landfill Guidelines (funded by the Sustainable Management Fund) was published.
MfE’s Landfill Management Programme at the time set out to develop and implement various guidelines which would make explicit the Ministry’s expectations. One of these (5) Guidelines was the Guide for the Management of Closing and Closed Landfills in New Zealand (Guide).
At the time, the aim of this Guide was to increase awareness of the risks associated with the legacy of old style landfills (tips/dumps) and to outline the best practical methods to manage closed sites effectively, so that adverse environmental effects could be minimised. The Guide applied to landfills that were already closed at that time (1998/99), and to landfills that would be closed within two years of 1998/99, as well as to landfills that at that stage did not yet have aftercare management plans prepared.
Waste Management agrees that the effects of leachate generated at old unlined landfills (dumps/tips) are of concern. These sites must continue to be managed and monitored during a full aftercare/post closure period to minimise these effects. At modern engineered landfills, like we are proposing in Wayby, the landfill liner system will be installed under strict independent quality control requirements to contain leachate so it can be removed from the landfill.
For noting, in the past few years, the WasteMINZ Technical Guidelines for Disposal to Land 2016 (revised 2018), have been published, although the document is still in the process of being adopted by MfE. These guidelines are available on WasteMINZ website. These are now considered best practice for modern engineered landfills, and will be followed by Waste Management at our proposed facility in Wayby.
Has Waste Management considered transporting the waste by rail?
At present, we are proposing transport of the waste by road to the proposed site. Waste by rail may be considered in the future.
Lining system for the proposed landfill
Will the proposed landfill use the same lining system as the one at Redvale? Does Redvale have leaks in the liner?
The proposed Auckland Regional Landfill will be designed and constructed using a typical lining system and consented under the Resource Management Act (RMA).
The lining system proposed for the Auckland Regional Landfill will be designed and constructed to meet the requirements of the specific geological characteristics of the location and will therefore be different to Redvale and other landfills. It must meet the requirements of the RMA.
Redvale Landfill and Energy Park does not have leaks in the liner and all leachate is contained, extracted and treated on site.
Consent and planning process
How does the resource consent process work?
The diagram below from The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) illustrates the process Auckland Council will follow when people or businesses apply for a resource consent. For this project, Waste Management has already asked that our application is publically notified, so Auckland Council will not have to make that decision.
To learn more about the process, there is a section on MfE’s website called An everyday guide: Applying for a resource consent here.
How can you access the proposed landfill documentation?
Council controls the next stages of our resource consent application process. They will have hardcopies of the resource consent application available to the public immediately, at Auckland Council’s Service Centres or libraries in these locations:
- Auckland CBD: Graham Street Service Centre, 35 Graham St, Auckland
- Warkworth: Warkworth Service Centre, 1 Baxter St
- Wellsford: Wellsford War Memorial Library, 13 Port Albert Rd
- Orewa: Orewa Service Centre, 50 Centreway Rd
You can also contact Warwick Pascoe, Principal Project Lead at Auckland Council by email at email@example.com to arrange a copy to be provided electronically.
Will the public be able to have their say on the consent application? Will it be publically notified?
Auckland Council normally decides whether or not to notify a resource consent application.
For this project, Waste Management has asked that Auckland Council publically notify the consent application. We know this project is an important and significant part of the region’s future infrastructure and that many people will be interested to provide comment.
Being a publically notified process will mean that anyone is able to obtain a copy of the consent application that we lodge, make a submission and be heard during the consent hearing.
We lodged our resource consent application in May.
Why is Waste Management applying for a private plan change?
Waste Management lodged an application for a private plan change in July 2019.
The intention of the private plan change is to recognise the landfill in the Auckland Unitary Plan (Unitary Plan) by creating a precinct.
If this change is made, it will mean the precinct will be identified on the Unitary Plan maps for anyone to see and also that future generations are aware from the maps that the precinct contains a landfill. The precinct will remain subject to any Unitary Plan rules for the rural zone and additional rules that apply to waste disposal in the precinct.
What is the process for the proposed private plan change?
The private plan change application will be processed by a different team at Auckland Council and will make its way through a different set of internal Council steps before it can progress to a public notification stage.
Like the resource consent process, the private plan change involves a hearing. Waste Management has requested that both the private plan change and the resource consent should be heard at the same time, to save time and effort for anyone who is interested in participating in the process, especially people from the community who wish to submit.
Allowing for Council timeframes, we understand the two processes are most likely to reach public notification in early 2020.
How does the plan change request affect the current resource consent application?
The creation of a new Auckland Regional Landfill Precinct will not affect the process or the assessment of the resource consent application.
What is the impact of the proposed plan change request?
Some of the key impacts of the plan change request are:
- Greater visibility into the future: There will be visibility of the landfill by way of the creation of an Auckland Regional Landfill Precinct in the Unitary Plan planning maps. This will be important while the landfill is accepting waste, but will be even more important after the landfill has stopped accepting waste, and we have completed our aftercare period, potentially more than 65 years away.
- Location identified for the placement of waste: The precinct will define Valley 1 only for the placement of waste. Any further waste placement outside of that defined area will require a further plan change or a new application for a resource consent at that time.
- Consenting requirements: The consenting process will remain the same as it is today. Any future resource consents relating to the landfill or operations on site in the future will be assessed as a discretionary activity, will be required to be publicly notified and all potential adverse effects will be required to be rigorously assessed.
When will the public notification process commence?
There are now two separate processes relating to the proposed landfill. One is the resource consent process and the other is a plan change request process. We understand the two processes are most likely to reach public notification in early 2020.
The next step in the resource consent process is for Council to request any additional information that they deem necessary, and for Waste Management to provide that material.
The private plan change application will progress through a number of internal Council processes before it is considered for public notification. Only when is it publicly notified will Council release that documentation to the community. Unlike the resource consent process, Council does not publish plan change request documentation until this public notification stage.
What are the next steps?
We will now wait for Council to review our documentation. We will provide an update as Council progresses through their processes.