Horowhenua correspondent Veronica Harrod reports a startling official attack on local democracy in the district.
She says ‘draconian’ clauses in a Horowhenua District Council agreement prevent all present and future members of two key community advocacy groups from speaking publicly about Levin’s landfill.
The leaked copy
A leaked copy of the agreement between the Council and parties to an Environment Court appeal against odour and leachate concerns at Levin’s landfill includes Hokio Environmental Kaitiaki Association (HEKA) and Horowhenua District Ratepayers and Residents Association Inc (HDRRAI).
HEKA and the local ratepayer’s association have agreed not to, “take, or be associated with supporting in any capacity, enforcement actions, legal proceedings, claims or, inquiries whatsoever against HDC in relation to the Levin Landfill.”
Another clause states HEKA and the Horowhenua ratepayer’s association will, “Use reasonable endeavours to encourage their members…to follow the provisions of this Agreement and not to take any actions contrary to it.”
HEKA is described in the agreement as being “a sub-committee” of the Ratepayers and Residents Association (HDRRA)but there is no mention of HEKA being a sub-committee of HDRRAI in the ratepayer association’s constitution.
‘Hush, hush’ policy
Another clause states that HEKA and HDRRAI, “will use best endeavours to ensure that their members do not discuss this agreement publicly until the press release is released.”
As at 15 March, Council’s press release has not been published but HDRRAI was holding a public meeting to discuss the agreement.
“Any person from time to time holding the role of president/chair, secretary and/or treasurer (or similar position)” for HEKA and HDRRAI is also prevented from speaking publicly about problems at Levin’s landfill.
Both organisations have agreed to refer complaints about the landfill to an internal Project Management Group (PMG) that will be established rather than to the regional and local council.
Odour complaints registry
A “non-formal” odour complaints register being established by the Council will only be accessible to the Project Management Group, which is only required to meet, “at least twice a year.”
HEKA and HDRRAI have also agreed to (1)
- End legal action in the Environment Court
- Support the Council in obtaining variations to resource consent conditions sought by the Council
- Support the Council to obtain the withdrawal of an abatement notice issued by regional council Horizons and support the Council in legal actions about environmental effects
Signatories to the agreement also include Ngati Raukawa hapu Ngati Pareraukawa, Palmerston North City Environmental Trust, Water and Environmental Care Association (WECA) and nearby property owners.