12 Apr 2021

New Plymouth District Council pulls support for Remediation NZ composting business

2:13 pm on 12 April 2021

New Plymouth District Council is ditching its support for Remediation NZ, a controversial composting business which has stockpiled 20,000 tonnes of contaminated waste at its Uruti site.

Composting in operation.

Photo: Screenshot

The company is seeking to renew consents to discharge to air, land and water.

The council wanted use the company to process its household food waste collection.

The council's group manager of planning and infrastructure David Langford said its submission supporting Remediation NZ was made two years ago when it was only aware of minor issues at the site.

"We supported a regional organic waste processing facility as this was in line with our Zero Waste vision. But we were also clear that our support was conditional on the facility meeting environmental best practice standards and that any environmental impacts were minimised and properly managed."

Langford said more serious environmental concerns had been raised about the site over the past two years and it was clear the expected standards were not being met which was a major factor behind the council decision to transport food waste to Hampton Downs.

"As kaitiaki, we set high standards for contractors and suppliers when it comes to managing our environmental impact. Because of the serious environmental concerns we have, we no longer support the renewal of Remediation NZ's consent."

Langford said funding had been included in the draft 10-year plan to build a new regional organic waste processing facility.

"This will reduce the transport costs for our ratepayers and ensure the facility is built and operated to the highest environmental standards."

In the meantime, the district council is working with the Taranaki Regional Council to formally withdraw its support for Remediation NZ's consents renewals.

Remediation NZ has a history of non-compliance with consents and was the subject of eight incident reports, three abatement and six infringement notices between October 2020 and 31 January this year.

More than 20 public submissions were received on the consents renewal, 13 for and 10 against.

Supporters other than the New Plymouth District Council include companies such as Fonterra, Tegel, Waste Management and EnviroWaste, which argued Remediation NZ provided a sustainable option for waste disposal not available anywhere else in Taranaki.

Local residents, Ngāti Mutunga, oil and gas industry watchdogs and environmental groups were among those who submitted against the consents renewals.

The company has argued that it dealt with difficult waste streams that did not "just disappear", adhered to a strict regulatory regime and was working to improve its systems and remediate the stockpiled waste.

A Taranaki Regional Council report prepared ahead of a consents hearing last month recommended renewing the consents under a slew of conditions.

The hearing's findingis due at the end of April.

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