A report from its consultants to Environment Southland has recommended that the seven new consents sought by AB Lime be declined.
AB Lime applied for consents and to vary an existing consent for its landfill site at Kings Bend, located about five kilometres east of Winton. If these are granted, the landfill would be the largest in the South.
The site already includes an established landfill with a history of over 15 years of activity and a well-established limestone quarry. The new consents sought will not increase its existing footprint or capacity and involve an application to Environment Southland and the Southland District Council for a 35-year resource consent including removal of a 100,000 tonne a year threshold for waste accepted at its landfill and to formalise receipt of emergency waste such as during the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.
The Aggregate and Quarry Association says AB Lime is actually “leading the way with a circular economy approach to its operations and deserves support” for a renewed landfill consent.
AQA CEO Wayne Scott, who has visited AB Lime’s operations near Winton, says the landfill operates to high standards including tapping into gas generated by waste material to dry quarried limestone.
The landfill footprint and overall capacity would not change under the consent, he iterates, and will fill more quickly, though under stricter environmental controls than the existing consents.
Waste from outside the Southland region would continue to be accepted as has been the case for many years, although some objectors have suggested this is new.
Wayne Scott says AB Lime runs a well-performing integrated landfill, lime quarry and dairy farm as well as developing a wetland. It has such extensive plantings across more than 60 hectares of native bush that it has created its own native plant nursery.
“This is a quarrying company that is showing its commitment to sustainability and that deserves to be applauded. The generation of energy from the landfill to dry quarried products has greatly reduced its use of coal and that contributes to a great example of a circular economy scenario.
“As an industry organisation we support initiatives to develop circular economy objectives and AB Lime is providing a stellar example to the quarrying sector. While those local residents objecting have a right to be heard, New Zealand Inc is the beneficiary of this landfill proposal,” says Wayne.
The consultant to Environment Southland is Pattle Delamore Partners, and its report author and environmental planning service leader, Michael Durand, recommends the application be refused citing three main issues. He believes not all of the actual and potential effects on the environment had been assessed, nor have the types of waste to be received. These materials include the aluminium dross waste (ADW) from the Tiwai Point smelter.
AB Lime explicitly states hazardous substances would not be received at the landfill. However, Durand notes the company still asked for its unlimited discharge.
“Some types of waste may be present at the Tiwai site, which do not meet the definition of hazardous waste in the application’s suggested conditions but could be considered to be ADW.
“Such substances that might be received have not been assessed in the application, despite its explicitly referring to ‘other sites in Southland that may require remedial waste relocation’.”
The third issue raised was that any management plan approvals would not provide sufficient environmental protection that includes odour. “Past complaints to AB Lime and to the council must have highlighted that odour is one of the critical effects to be effectively managed under the proposed new consent.”
The report notes, “Submitters are unhappy that odour effects have not been adequately managed in the past. They are also sceptical that odours will be managed effectively in the future.”
Since the consent notification, the AB Lime Action Group was formed which has been vocal in opposing the application, particularly over its claim of the limited notification of the application and subsequent lack of public scrutiny.
Following a formal hearing, an independent resource management commissioner will make a decision on AB Lime’s application, not council staff or councillors. A hearing, which was held last month at the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club, took into account the application, the seven submissions, associated evidence and Environment Southland’s report.