The controversial Levin landfill agreement says all 11 parties have to sign the agreement but only five parties have put their name on the dotted line.
Clause 3.2 (a) of the agreement states, “within 15 working days of all Parties signing this agreement”, Horowhenua District Council will pay up to $85,000 to Hokio Environmental Kaitiaki Alliance (HEKA) for, “fair and reasonable net costs” of professional consultants contracted during negotiations and costs for a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to monitor the tip.
Only five signatories
The Council, HEKA, Horowhenua District Ratepayers and Residents Association Inc (HDRRAI), Ngati Raukawa hapu Ngati Pareraukawa and Peter Everton of Everton Farm Ltd and Lakeview Farm Ltd are the five minority parties who signed the agreement fewer than half the 11 required.
The six parties that didn’t include Water Environmental Care Association Inc (WECA), Palmerston North City Environment Trust and four affected neighbours and interested parties.
Another clause states HEKA and “the s274 Parties” would withdraw their interests and evidence in the Environment Court appeal, “with the intent that this is a final settlement of that appeal between the parties, on a no cost basis; and support the Council in opposing any late s274 applications in relation to the Environment Court Proceedings.”
Worries about smells and leaching
“The s274 Parties” refers to groups and individuals who were parties to the Environment Court appeal by HEKA against odour and leachate concerns at Levin’s landfill.
At an HDRRAI public meeting held on 17 March WECA member Trevor Hinder stated that WECA wanted to retain the right to take the Council back to the Environment Court.
This scenario potentially pits environmental and resident groups against each other because HEKA, HDRRAI, Ngati Pareraukawa and Peter Everton have to support the Council, “in opposing any late s274 applications in relation to the Environment Court Proceedings.”
Also WECA chair Geoff Keith is also HEKA’s chair which means, on one hand, he is chair of a group that could appeal to the Environment Court and, on the other hand, as HEKA chair he has to support the Council in any future appeals raising conflict of interest concerns.
Mr Keith’s position as chair of WECA may also be untenable because gagging clauses prevent, “all present and future members” of groups who sign the agreement from talking publicly with anyone else about all matters covered by the agreement.