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  Council » Policies and Plans » Rules and regulation » Waikato Regional Plan » Waikato Regional Plan (online version) » 5.2 Discharges Onto or Into Land » 5.2.8 Implementation Methods - Composting of Green Waste* and Other Organic Materials

5.2.8 Implementation Methods - Composting of Green Waste* and Other Organic Materials

5.2.8.1 Permitted Activity Rule – Small Scale Composting

The discharge of contaminants onto or into land or air occurring as the result of the production of compost is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. The total volume of compost produced at the site does not exceed 20 cubic metres per annum.
  2. The material to be composted shall not contain any hazardous substance or biosolids.
  3. Leachate produced during the process of composting shall not be discharged into any water body.
  4. Any discharge to air arising from the activity shall comply with the conditions and standards and terms in Section 6.1.8 except where the matters addressed in Section 6.1.8 are already addressed by conditions on resource consents for the site.
  5. If the discharge is within the Lake Taupo catchment, the compost shall be sourced within the property it is discharged to.

Advisory Notes:

  • Discharges of contaminants into land that affect Significant Geothermal Features are addressed in Rules 7.6.6.1 to 7.6.6.3. Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary, and in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.
  • Land use consents may also be required for this activity under the relevant district plan. These consents will cover issues such as buffer zones, traffic, amenity values protection of identified areas of significant indigenous vegetation1 and outstanding landscapes and noise.

5.2.8.2 Permitted Activity – Green Waste Composting

The discharge of contaminants onto or into land or air occurring as the result of the production of compost from green waste* at a landfill or Refuse Transfer Station designated in an operative district plan is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. The maximum volume of green waste and compost being stored, processed or cured on the site at any one time is less than 1500 cubic metres of which
    1. no more than 500 cubic metres shall be actively composting at any one time
    2. no more that 100 cubic metres shall be awaiting processing at any one time unless the green waste has been mixed with coarse or woody material and loosely windrowed to ensure the green waste remains aerobic in which case 500 m3 can be stored
  2. Where the composting activity is an existing lawfully established activity as at 1 July 2006, and has had no verified complaints of objectionable effects of odour or particulate matter that has resulted in successful enforcement action being taken since 1 July 2003, the site shall be 250 metres or more away from any building occupied by people on a regular basis, including houses, hostels, meeting places, schools and hospitals or places of work (other than places of work within the property where the composting is occurring).
  3. Where the composting activity is a new activity, the site at which the activity occurs shall be 500 metres or more away from any building occupied by people on a regular basis, including houses, hostels, meeting places, schools and hospitals or places of work (other than places of work within the property where the composting is occurring).
  4. Any discharge to air arising from the activity shall comply with the conditions and standards and terms in Section 6.1.8 except where the matters addressed in Section 6.1.8 are already addressed by conditions on resource consents for the site.
  5. Leachate produced during the process of composting shall not be discharged into water unless separately authorised by a resource consent to do so.
  6. Any material with a known potential to cause objectionable odours (e.g. partially composted grass clippings) must be covered before the end of the working day.

Advisory Notes

  • The 1500 cubic metres volume includes all unshredded green waste, shredded green waste, composting material and composted material.
  • Activities that comply in full with Appendix K of NZS4454:2005 Compost, Soil Conditioners and Mulches are likely to comply with the conditions of this Rule.
  • Discharges of contaminants into land that affect Significant Geothermal Features are addressed in Rules 7.6.6.1 to 7.6.6.3. Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary, and in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.

5.2.8.3 Controlled Activity Rule – Existing and Large Scale Green Waste* Composting

The discharge of any contaminant onto or into land, water or air during the production of compost in a manner that does not comply with Rules 5.2.8.1 and 5.2.8.2 where:

  1. The operation is a green waste composting operation
  2. The composting operation is an existing activity at the time of notification of this Plan (28 September 1998)
  3. Any change in the activity shall not increase the scale, frequency, intensity, nature or duration of the operation
  4. The activity shall have no verified complaints of objectionable effects of odour or particulate matter that has resulted in successful enforcement action being taken in the two years prior to the consent application;

is a controlled activity (requiring resource consent) subject to the following standards and terms:

  1. Leachate produced during the process of composting shall not be discharged into any water body unless separately authorised by a resource consent to do so.
  2. The material to be composted must not contain or be derived from hazardous wastes or pathogenic wastes.

Waikato Regional Council reserves control over the following matters:

  1. The means of controlling effects on air quality from objectionable odour or objectionable particulate matter.
  2. Measures to be adopted for stormwater control and leachate management.
  3. Measures for controlling the source and quality of material being composted.
  4. Effects on any waahi tapu or other taonga from the activity.
  5. Effects on the relationship of tangata whenua and their culture and traditions with the site and any waahi tapu or other taonga affected by the activity.
  6. Effects on the ability of tangata whenua to exercise their kaitiaki role in respect of any waahi tapu or other taonga affected by the activity.
  7. Any contingency measures necessary to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects associated with the failure to successfully dispose and/or sell composted product.
  8. Any measures necessary to rehabilitate the land following the completion of the activity.
  9. The need for buffer zones or other measures to avoid or mitigate the effects of discharges to air.

Advisory Notes:

  • Discharges of contaminants into land that affect Significant Geothermal Features are addressed in Rules 7.6.6.1 to 7.6.6.3. Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary, and in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.
  • Land use consents may also be required for this activity under the relevant district plan. These consents will cover issues such as buffer zones, traffic, amenity values, protection of identified areas of significant indigenous vegetation2 and outstanding landscapes and noise.
  • The imposition of consent conditions under matters iv), v) and vi) shall take into account the policy direction provided in Policies 1 and 2 in Sections 2.3.3 in addition to specific policies in this Chapter of the Plan.

5.2.8.4 Discretionary Activity Rule – Other Composting Operations

Any discharge of contaminants onto or into land, water or air associated with the composting of organic waste that does not comply with Rules 5.2.8.1, 5.2.8.2 or 5.2.8.3 is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent).

Advisory Notes:

  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this Rule are as set out in Section 8.1.4.7. In addition assessment shall also take into account the matters identified in Policy 2 of Chapter 5.2.
  • Land use consents may also be required for this activity under the relevant district plan. These consents will cover issues such as buffer zones, traffic, amenity values, protection of identified areas of significant indigenous vegetation and outstanding landscapes and noise.
  • Soil disturbance activities and the discharge of contaminants into or onto land within 20 metres of any Significant Geothermal Feature is a discretionary activity under Rules 7.6.6.1 to 7.6.6.3. Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary, and in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.

Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Methods 5.2.8.1 to 5.2.8.4
The composting of green waste is an activity that Waikato Regional Council wishes to encourage in accordance with Policy 1 of this Chapter. Significant quantities of green waste are produced in the Region each year. Much of this waste is disposed of in landfills or dumps where its decomposition contributes to the generation of landfill gases and leachate. However, green waste represents a potential resource if it is composted and recycled as a soil conditioner.

Rule 5.2.8.1 permits small scale composting, such as on an orchard or farm. Even at this small scale, if many landowners import organic material into the Lake Taupo catchment, nutrient effects with respect to the Lake may be unacceptable. For this reason the rule applies outside the Lake Taupo catchment, or within the catchment if the compost is sourced from the property it is discharged to. Rule 5.2.8.2 permits relatively small scale composting operations typically established at designated waste disposal sites and transfer stations. Because these operations only receive green waste and are generally in relatively isolated locations there is little risk of objectionable effects of odour arising. The Rule effectively provides for existing operations that have not been subject to successful enforcement action to continue without the need for resource consents, and provides for new operations to be established provided buffer zones are sufficient.

Larger composting operations involving more windrows become much more complicated to operate with much more attention required to the temperature, moisture content, raw material, inputs, leachate control and odour management at the site. Such larger sites are also generally operating as industrial or trade premises, receiving waste from a range of sources which further complicates management of the site. Considerable technical expertise is required at this scale of operation and the risks of non-compliance with the conditions are sufficiently high that a resource consent should be required. Green waste composting which enables composting activities that present a lower risk of generating odour due to their scale is enabled by a controlled activity (Rule 5.2.8.3). This activity generally presents low risks of objectionable effects of odour, compared with operations that compost biosolids, manure or food waste. However, due to the risks a resource consent is still required. Existing composting operations that have no record of complaints have also been enabled in this Rule as a recognition of good practice.

Rule 5.2.8.4 identifies that composting other organic wastes or composting green waste in a manner that does not comply with the other rules is a discretionary activity. Past experience shows that these activities present a greater risk of generating objectionable odour than green waste composting. The matters over which control has been reserved in the controlled activity rule do not give Waikato Regional Council sufficient confidence that the effects of these activities can always be adequately managed. This Rule provides for composting of other materials such as sewage sludges or substrate for mushroom cultivation on a casebycase basis.

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