Kaipara’s waste to energy plant push involves majority overseas-owned company

Will Kaipara become home to top-of-NZ waste to energy plant?

Will Kaipara become home to top-of-NZ waste to energy plant?
Photo: LDR / Susan Botting

Kaipara District Council’s push to build a controversial waste to energy plant in or near Auckland involves the 41 percent Chinese-owned company aiming to build a $350 million equivalent in Canterbury.

Council Deputy Mayor Jonathan Larsen specifically mentioned 81 percent overseas-owned South Island Resource Recovery Limited (SIRRL) as the industry operator Kaipara District Council would work with to investigate setting up a huge multi-million dollar waste to energy plant in his notice of motion to the council’s April meeting in Dargaville.

Other industry sector operators would also have the opportunity to be involved in the investigation.

Auckland-based SIRRL is a joint venture partnership between China Tianying and Renew Energy Limited of New Zealand, according to Open Corporates website. Its European subsidiary EUZY owns 19 percent of SIRRL.

CNTY is a Chinese-based company mostly involved in municipal waste incineration for power generation. It owns 41 percent of SIRRL’s 10,000 shares.

Spanish company Urbaser S.A.U owns 40 percent and Auckland-based company Renew Energy Limited 19 percent.

SIRRL is aiming to build what it says will be New Zealand’s first waste to energy or WtE plant – codenamed Project Kea and processing 365,000 tonnes of waste annually in rural Glenavy, South Canterbury between Christchurch and Dunedin.

The Kaipara council-initiated investigation is to be done in conjunction with Auckland Council via Mayor Wayne Brown, Whangārei District Council via Mayor Cocurullo, Far North District Council via Mayor Tepania, Northland Inc and Te Uri o Hau.

Cr Pera Paniora said Waka Kotahi NZTA was also interested.

Larsen said the major new infrastructure would incinerate Northland and Auckland councils’ waste.

He said the Kaipara council had, quite rightly, opposed the proposed Dome Valley landfill but not come up with an alternative.

The time was right to investigate harnessing this modern and clean technology which produced energy and valuable byproducts.

” hope that we can try and land something, maybe in this term of council,” Larsen said.

Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson and Deputy Mayor Jonathan Larsen.

Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson and Deputy Mayor Jonathan Larsen.
Photo: LDR / Susan Botting

Larsen said Kaipara council staff would now investigate options for a WtE plant, with a preliminary viability report to be presented to a council workshop in June.

He said Kaipara council chief executive Jason Marris could check whether other Northland council chief executives would be interested and if so, a combined councils’ workshop with industry operators could follow.

Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson has previously been involved the international WtE plant company Olivine plan to convert North Waikato’s coal-fired Meremere power station into a waste to energy plant. The company pulled out after an 18-month resource consent battle.

The April council meeting was in support of Larsen’s notice of motion.

Whether and how the other 43 local government politicians from Auckland north have formally voted to carry out the investigation, has not yet been made public.

Larsen said Auckland Council’s involvement was critical to provide the economies of scale needed for rubbish supply to the incinerator.

Auckland produces roughly 1.6 million tonnes of rubbish annually.

Remote locations around Auckland’s Rodney and Kaipara are in line of sight for those keen on the WtE plant.

Larsen said the plant could be sited in Kaipara or Auckland. It was possible Kaipara would get greater advantage from having the plant in its area.

He said the best location provided optimal transportation access relative to the source of where the biggest rubbish production was.

Rail transport would be used to get rubbish to the site, meaning it would need to be close to the North Auckland rail line, which runs from Helensville to Okaihau.

Larsen did not talk about the fuel used to fire up the incinerator burning the waste. Coal has been used for this job overseas.

Paniora was in support of the WtE plant because of the potential opportunity for it to be located in Kaipara.

But she said investigation should be driven by Auckland Council.

“It should really be led by Auckland Council and we should take a very limited involvement in that and have the conversation driven by Auckland Council, because it’s their issue that they’re currently facing right now,” Paniora said.

The Environment Court’s Dome Valley landfill appeal decision was not far away, she said.

It looked likely the landfill’s resource consent would be declined.

“That’s where the conversation about waste to energy becomes very relevant,” Paniora said.

Councillor Eryn Wilson-Collins said the bigger players among those involved in the investigation should work through what they envisaged the project looking like then get back to KDC.

“…it’s not a council project,” Wilson-Collins said.

Councillor Gordon Lambeth said a new WtE plant provided opportunity for Kaipara.

“Build it and they will come. Auckland’s got a problem, we’ve got the solution. I believe this a great opportunity economically for the Kaipara District Council. Auckland ain’t going to get it [the plant] built,” Lambeth said.

He said there were too many “nimbys” in Auckland, who would not want the plant in their area.

“We (Kaipara) have the opportunity, we have the land, we have the infrastructure, everything’s in place.”

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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