Bonny Glen Landfill

Note: Consents were granted. The landfill will almost quintuple its size (not quadruple as previously reported by the media) and for 40 years not 35.  See updates for 20 May 2015  For the latest on Bonny Glen go to News & Updates page HERE  

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NOTE: A submission by Marton resident, Hamish Allan concerning the leachate issue is now available at the ‘Bonny Glen Submissions Hearings’ page. The RDC/Horizons Compliance/non-Compliance Reports related to discharge of the Bonny Glen leachate into the WWTP have now been posted on the ‘Bonny Glen Submissions Hearings’ page. 

 About Bonny Glen

Bonny Glen in the Rangitikei, was originally settled by Highland Scots people, its name conjuring up a mental scene of delightful beauty and rural tranquility. Situated just 7kms west of Marton in the Rangitikei, it is now the home of a landfill that is the subject of several much debated resource consents to extend its capacity. Lest I offend anybody, the countryside there still is  beautiful, and  hats  off to all the folk who still live in  the  area

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAas I’ve heard on some days it smells pretty foul out in the wind. And it’s been reported recently in a local newspaper that the leachate from the facility is probably harming the health of the local Tutaenui Stream because the consented levels are being regularly exceeded. The landfill or tip was sold by the local Council to Midwest Disposals some 15 or so years ago. They’re seeking consent to dump rubbish from as far afield as New Plymouth, South Taranaki, Whanganui, Palmerston North, Wairarapa and Horowhenua (over 200 km away) until the year 2055. Rubbish it appears, is already brought from as far afield as Ruapehu and Carterton.  The consent has been five years in the making at a cost of $1.5 million. Firstly though, to familiarize yourself with this issue, here are some links  to some research on the landfill that gives historical information, and then to some local newspaper  articles                    

Consents to extend landfill use sought ;    “The owners of the Bonny Glen landfill are looking to extend operations. Levin-based Midwest Disposals has applied to the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council and Rangitikei District Council for consents ….. ”    (The Wanganui Chronicle)

 Landfill plans rile neighbours ….“Rangitikei locals say they don’t want their backyard to be the dumping ground for rubbish from other regions, as it will turn their area into the “toilet bowl” of New Zealand….” (The Wanganui Chronicle)

Information about the actual resource consent can be found at the District Council link, which contains a further link to the actual consent document, a hefty 7 volumes … not for the faint hearted:

Bonny Glen, near the landfill
Bonny Glen, near the landfill

(The consent applications can be viewed on the Horizons website). Understandably, folks were up in arms about the lack of forewarning regarding these resource consents and what an extension would mean for them … from ‘grain bowl’ to  ‘toilet bowl’ is what they envisaged.  And understandably up in arms since it is they who will be living next door to the proposed, greatly extended tip and anybody who thinks land adjacent to that landfill isn’t going to drop in value is dreaming. In light of all the above, it would not therefore be unreasonable to expect them to be informed. Old fashioned neighbourly manners however, don’t feature in ‘corporatese’. Instead common folk are required to wade through the screeds of officially worded and hard to understand 7 volumes of documents and make a submission if they are not happy with the proposed changes. The spending of 1.5 million dollars on researching for these consents speaks volumes about their expectation of success methinks.

800px-Seagulls_in_flight_1Nevertheless, a meeting did eventuate, albeit late in the piece, and one which I personally attended. It was one week before submissions needed to be in, and was extended by an extra week after the meeting. So to recap here and get the magnitude of the deal, the company spends 5 years and $1.5 million planning for this consent with nary a whisper to those who are going to be affected by it, then they spring it on them, and they have ONE WEEK (kindly extended to two) to read FIVE years worth of documents, consisting of seven volumes, prepared in legal language by very savvy corporate lawyers. Who wouldn’t be incensed? Would it not look like a done deal? I sensed dismay at the meeting that folks had been caught by surprize … that they hadn’t been notified. It appears from the Mayor, His Worship Andy Watson, that the company ‘wasn’t required’ to notify anybody. There you go, watertight corporate legalese. Although the Mayor and councilors were present I understand they were not permitted to offer much advice beyond how to make a submission, bound by corporate law that could place them in a position of being sued if they compromised. I don’t believe there were any other options besides a submission, and expressing their opinions at the meeting which they did. This all understandably gave the impression at least, even if not true, that Council reps were not on the side of the very ones who elected them into office. One has to wonder, did the Council know of the consent application before the fact? Predictably, if they did, they no doubt were not allowed to say so or, I guess they would have. Yes?

The Durie Hill Memorial Tower, Whanganui.
The Durie Hill Memorial Tower, Whanganui

Now … the shareholders of the said company will not be living next door to the increased population of rats, feral cats and seagulls (I once saw an entire paddock near the landfill packed full of the latter). Their stock will not be affected by any rubbish the seagulls drop on their land (one gentleman explained he’d lost cows from unexplained deaths and suspected they’d eaten rubbish but couldn’t prove it), their clothing won’t be infused on a windy day with the odour of refuse, nor will they be gazing at the new mountain of rubbish that it is said will be as high as nearby Whanganui’s Durie Hill Tower (33.5 m tall).

 The consents sought will create a considerable rise in volume by any stretch of the imagination (quadruple by one account). This will turn the area into, as one local complained, the ‘toilet bowl’ instead of the ‘grain bowl’ of the Rangitikei’. Oh, and the company appears to already be getting away with depositing leachate that is above consent levels. So, no, no need to notify the locals at all. The title ‘limited liability company’ should give you a clue … their liability is limited and if we observe the experience of people on other parts of the planet, they have well paid lawyers who can ruin you financially if you dare try to upset their plans. Welcome to the world of corporate license. On a final note, one would hope to see the matter of Midwest’s regularly exceeding the consent levels of leachate released into Marton’s waste water treatment plant resolved before any consents are given to quadrupling the size of the landfill,  increasing the leachate output even further and polluting the local stream with exceeded levels of biological oxygen demand, ammonia and suspended solids. I think that’s reasonable.

If you’re one who is not up to speed with how corporations operate, go to the Corporations page on this site and watch ‘The Corporation’ film. It provides an analysis of what a corporation is, how it works and how they get away with stuff. There’s been a change in the way things work that came with Roger Douglas’ notorious economic shift that also led to NZ now being registered as, not a sovereign democratic nation, but a corporation on the US, SEC website (if you visit the link provided there is a pdf file you can download to learn how to visit the SEC site for yourself). This has caught many by surprise because they’ve missed the switch in the not too obvious ‘rules’. More importantly, what this means to ordinary people on the ground is, because the legal mandate of corporations is to maximize profits for their shareholders, then fall out for people is not on their agenda… at all. They have figured out in fact, how to make you pay for any fall out … entitling that fall out ‘externalities’. I recall at the meeting a query about a rise in dump fees to locals. The reply given was that it was to deter people from PN for instance, from carting their rubbish here. And as the person questioning aptly replied, words to the effect of, ‘so we are subsidizing them’. It is the same with roads. My understanding is (and correct me please if I am wrong) the local council pays for any damage caused by extra traffic.  Although incredibly, a recent report is telling us that even with quadruple the amount of rubbish being brought in, there will be no extra volume of trucks. To recap, with a corporation, everything is weighed in the balance of cost effectiveness for them, not in consideration for the people. As I point out regularly here, If you visit this site link you can read there how to check out NZ’s SEC listing for yourself … and note also, our former government departments are also corporations.

~ EnvirowatchRangitikei ~

Watch this space for further updates on the resource consent progress &/or check the Horizons website HERE.

SITE GUIDE: For more articles & updates on Bonny Glen or any other topic go to  ‘Categories’ on the left hand side of the page, use the search box, at the top right of the page, or the tag cloud on the right.

Links for Submissions Hearings 17-27 February 2015

Indicative Timetable:

Horizons Website:


Note: Hearings have now finished.

Consents were granted, see update for 20 May below.




5 thoughts on “Bonny Glen Landfill”

    1. You would need to ask Midwest Disposals Tracy, the owners of the landfill. I heard rumour some was dumped in the district, possibly there but was unconfirmed. Have not researched it fully, due to lack of time.


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