Today we wrote this letter to the FNDC's Acting Chief Executive Officer and the General Manager for Water, Wastewater and Refuse.
RE: RUSSELL LANDFILL
There are two significant legal issues arising out of the Council’s current intention to deposit in the Russell Landfill waste material from other parts of the district, they are these:
1. Local Government Act 2002
The provisions of the LTCCP. These appear to recognise the Russell Landfill and the Ahipara Landfill as the only two current Landfill sites in the district. It is recognised in the LTCCP and the waste management plan that these sites will continue to be used for a few years.
There is no provision in the LTCCP or the waste management plan which contemplates that any refuse from other parts of the district would be taken to the Russell Landfill site.
It was on that basis that the LTCCP was promoted to the residents of Russell.
Changes may be made to the LTCCP, but only in accordance with the proper procedures of the Local Government Act 2002.
We are unable to see that those procedures have been followed and, in particular, that there has been any public consultation or formal amendment of the LTCCP as required by Section 93 of the Local Government Act 2002.
Until that has taken place and the necessary Council resolutions have been passed, it is our opinion that no further rubbish from outside of Russell should be deposited at the Russell Landfill.
2. Resource Management Act 1991
The Council’s district plan records in it’s list of designations under the heading “site notification/purpose” the words “Russell Landfill”. Other designations in the district are appropriately identified and their purpose listed.
We consider that the designation is there as a Landfill site for Russell. It is not as a Landfill site for other parts of the district .
When the district plan was notified people inspecting the plan would have been able to lodge submissions. Had the designation been shown as, for instance, “Landfill site for the district” this would no doubt have attracted a number of submissions from people in Russell. As it was the designation “Russell Landfill” simply indicates that it was to be the Landfill for Russell.
Accordingly, in our opinion to be using the Russell Landfill for the deposit of Council refuse from other parts of the district will be outside the parameters of the permitted designation and could only take place if there was an appropriate extension of the designation or a resource consent permitting it. At this stage neither has been applied for.
We are advised that we could take enforcement proceedings in the Environment Court to obtain an order preventing the disposal of refuse from other parts of the district into the Russell Landfill. We are reluctant to have to do this and therefore seek your immediate assurance that no deposit of refuse from outside Russell will be made by the Council, unless and until the appropriate resource consents under the Resource Management Act have been obtained.
3. A third matter relates to the basis upon which the Council occupies the Russell Landfill site.
According to the designation the title detail is Lot 1 being a Lease over Part 2 DP13738. It is understood that a lease was granted some time ago to the Council. Has the Council now purchased the freehold, or is it still subject to the lease? What are the terms of that lease? As it was a lease granted by a Russell resident, it is possible that that lease identifies the use to which the Russell Landfill site may be lawfully put.
In terms of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, could you also please arrange to let us have, as soon as possible:
- Copies of all current resource consents relating to the Russell Landfill from the District Council and Northland Regional Council;
- Copies of all documents relating to the designation of the Russell Landfill site;
- Copies of the title and lease above referred to;
- Copies of all reports submitted to the Council and Council or Committee minutes relating to the current proposals to deposit refuse from other parts of the district to the Russell Landfill;
- Copies of all reports and advice received by the Council in the last 2 years relating to the use of the Russell Landfill site under the provisions of the Resource Management Act;
- Copies of all documents produced in relation to any consultation which may have taken place in relation to the LTCCP and referring to the Russell Landfill site.
In the meantime we expect to hear by return of post that until all appropriate legal steps have been taken and satisfied, no refuse from outside Russell will be placed in the Russell Landfill.