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Published: 2001-10-24 00:00:00

The Environment Court has dismissed appeals against an Environment Waikato decision to grant resource consents for the controversial Hampton Downs Road landfill.

In a lengthy 145 page decision, the Court has upheld Environment Waikato’s decision to grant consents to EnviroWaste Services Ltd. The Council decision, made in 1999, was appealed by a small number of submitters who were joined by various groups which had not taken part in the Council hearing. The issue was re-heard over a 10 month period by the Environment Court.

The Court said it had had arrived at the “unavoidable conclusion that the effects of the proposal were so carefully canvassed and so competently and comprehensively responded to by EnviroWaste, and the conditions to be attached to any consent by the Waikato Regional Council and the Waikato District Council so exhaustive, that we must exercise our discretion in favour of the application to construct and operate a major regional landfill at Hampton Downs”.

“We have concluded that the proposal, subject to the consent conditions imposed, will not result in any significant adverse effects on the environment.”

The Court said the protective mechanisms put in place as a result of the site selection and design would ensure that leachate was contained.

“We find that there is no risk of leachate escaping into the groundwater. The expert evidence overwhelmingly convinced us of this. We are satisfied that the risk of contaminants escaping to the Waikato River or any adjacent stream feeding to that river is so improbable as to be able to be completely discounted.

“We have already concluded that the likelihood of contamination of the water of the Waikato River is extremely remote if it occurs at all. We are satisfied that there will be no adverse effects on the ecosystems and indigenous fauna.”

The Court said there would be no danger to health from the leachate, and that odour was likely to be of such frequency, intensity or duration as to have no more than a minor adverse effect on neighbours. The proposal would also have no effect on the Whangamarino wetlands.

Appropriate account had been taken of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the design of the proposal and stringent conditions would protect Maori interests. The company was required to carry out “very extensive and considerable” monitoring procedures. The environment would be protected and the concerns expressed by the appellants were unfounded, it said.

The Court, consisting of a Judge and three technical expert Commissioners, sat over 79 days in a variety of venues in Hamilton, Auckland and a Huntly marae.

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