A massive and controversial landfill to take half of Auckland's household and commercial waste has got approval after a split decision by independent commissioners.
The panel of independent commissioners today released its decision to grant resource consent for the landfill in Auckland's Dome Valley.
The resource consent gives permission for Waste Management New Zealand to construct and operate a 60ha landfill on its 1000ha Wayby site.
Waste Management has said most of the land will act as a buffer from surrounding farms and forestry blocks.
It will be known as the Auckland Regional Landfill and replace Waste Management's Redvale landfill, which is due to reach capacity in 2026. Redvale takes about half of the city's 1.6 million tonnes of rubbish a year.
Foreign-owned Waste Management is one of the top 20 contractors which have earned $10 billion since the inception of the Super City in 2010. The multinational company, owned by Beijing Capital, has earned $253.3m since 2010.
The project has drawn strong opposition from locals, Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith and iwi leaders who say the smelly operation will threaten marine life and cause traffic congestion.
After looking at several sites over several years, Waste Management said it chose the site at Wayby Valley in the wider Dome Valley area because of its proximity to SH1, appropriate geology and ability to maintain separation from sensitive receivers.
The independent commissioners, who last year heard evidence from the applicant (WMNZ), submitters, mana whenua and 20 Auckland Council specialists on the proposal, were split in their final decision.
The decision to grant consent was supported by four out of five independent commissioners. The chair of the panel, Sheena Tepania, believed the consent should be refused.
Although not overly common, split decisions do occur for resource consent processes and are allowed.
Auckland Council's General Manager Resource Consents, Ian Smallburn, says the council realises many in the Dome Valley community will be disappointed to learn of today's decision.
"The council understands this long-awaited news is not the outcome many will have been hoping for.
"We would like to reassure iwi, submitters and the community that their views and concerns were heard and taken on board by the independent commissioners who have made this decision," he said.
The resource consent includes about 400 conditions, which Smallburn said were the direct result of hearing the valid concerns put forward.
As a result of the amendments made to the original conditions, 20 experts from Auckland Council covering a wide range of specialist topics including ecology, land stability, landfill engineering, human health risk, transport, erosion and sediment control, stormwater, and air quality, amongst others, all agreed that the proposal should be granted.
There is an appeal period of 15 working days.