Community treated with contempt in negative landfill decision

Hapū and community groups calling for the closure of the notorious leaching Levin Landfill at Hōkio Beach are deeply disappointed at the Horowhenua District Council’s (HDC) recent ‘surprise’ decision to defer closing the landfill.

Last Wednesday’s decision (April 13) follows public consultation where the Council received 150 submissions, with over 95% in favor of Option 1 to close the landfill this year.

Ngati Pareraukawa representative on the Project Management Group (PMG) David Moore described the decision as: “a desperate delaying tactic that showed complete contempt for 95% of submitters who wanted the landfill closed this year”.

He said the Council had a huge opportunity for environmental restoration and social reconciliation and ‘blew it’ by voting against the advice in its own ($1million) consultants (Morrison Solutions) report – recommending closure this year.

“Yet again, Horowhenua ratepayers will pay for HDC mis-management and negligence, while another report or review is written,” he said.

Community representative on the group, Jenny Rowan, describes the decision as “deeply disappointing” and says “it’s exactly what happens when elected representatives don’t pay attention to critical issues and don’t listen to their communities.”

Councillors had all the information they ever needed to make an informed and enlightened decision after the community took them to the Environment Court three years ago - they should’ve been sitting up wide-eyed asking questions and doing their homework then, she says.

Peter Thompson, Spokesperson for Over It – the Horowhenua/Kāpiti campaign to close the Landfill welcomed the strong leadership shown by female councillors (Deputy Mayor Jo Mason, Cr Christine Mitchell, and Cr Victoria Kaye-Simmons) and ‘somewhat surprisingly’ the lone voice of Iwi (Cr Robert Ketu) – these four continued to support the community’s wishes, and follow the expert’s advice to close the landfill in 2022.

He said, what transpired was history in the making where the remaining male councillors argued they lacked the ability to make the decision without the advice and guidance of a woman, incoming Chief Executive Monique Davidson. The group looks forward to working with her, and hopes she can throw new light on last week’s “ill-conceived decision-making.”

He said while it was reassuring to know rubbish was no longer being sent to the landfill, the environment continues to be the huge loser in all of this, with the Hokio stream continuing to be contaminated 24/7 by leachate from the site and this needs to be dealt with urgently.

Over It is considering its options and will continue to put pressure on both the Horowhenua District Council and the Horizons Regional Council for complete closure of the site and restoration of the surrounding environment.

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