Archive | Waste

Transpacific’s sale of NZ waste business to Beijing Capital approved

ASX-listed Transpacific Industries Group Ltd said yesterday it had obtained consent from the NZ Overseas Investment Office and all Chinese regulatory approvals for the $950 million sale of its New Zealand business to Beijing Capital Group. The sale is expected to be completed on 30 June.

Beijing Capital Group is one of China’s leading state-owned infrastructure enterprises, with specialist expertise in water treatment, waste management, mass transit railway & toll roads. It’s also one of China’s most prominent real estate developers.

At 31 December, the company’s total assets exceeded $US21 billion and it had $US3.7 billion of annual revenue.

Transpacific chief executive Robert Boucher said proceeds from the sale would allow the company to redeem its $A250 million of step-up preference securities, refinance its syndicated debt facility and fund future investments with a strong capital base. The company would also consider resuming dividends in the near term.

“The sale of our New Zealand business gives Transpacific increased financial flexibility. We will look to enhance our Australian waste management businesses, capture long-term growth opportunities and generate improved shareholder value.”

Transpacific entered the New Zealand market in 2006 when it bought the NZX-listed Waste Management (NZ) Ltd for $870 million.

Australian private equity firm Ironbridge Capital bought the competition, Enviro Waste Services Ltd, in 2007 and sold it in January last year for $501 million to Cheung Kong Infrastructure of Hong Kong, one of the largest owners of infrastructure assets in the world, founded by billionaire Sir Li Ka-shing.

Attribution: Company release, Transpacific & Enviro Waste websites.

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Forum supports stormwater management framework as staff tell of budget danger, warn about flood plains and suggest no-go areas

Published 22 June 2011

The Auckland Council demonstrated yesterday the difficulty it’s having in writing a multitude of transformative plans all at once, as its environment & sustainability forum agreed to a draft framework on how to implement a stormwater programme.

One aspect is how the various plans all mesh together, which requires drafting then redrafting as one or another is advanced. The other aspect is funding by a council which needs to contain overall spending as it proclaims aspirational projects that will set Auckland apart from the ho-hum.

Staff told councillors the stormwater budget had been cut and they wouldn’t be able to meet community aspirations. They also told councillors it would be a slow change to get housing out of known flood plains, and that one solution for future development was to mark out no-go areas.

The forum – councillors plus Maori Independent Statutory Board representation – agreed that the council should adopt a catchment approach in identifying priorities and developing intervention programmes for the Auckland Plan – the spatial plan for the area previously run by 7 territorial councils – & statutory planning documents.

The council wants to have the Auckland Plan in place by December. It’s also writing a unitary plan, a combination of the territorial district plan and the principles of a regional plan. Into the mix, the new council will vote next Tuesday, 28 June, on an annual plan based on budgeting by the predecessor councils, which is now intended to result in a 3.7% rates increase (down from 7-9% if all predecessor councils’ wishes had been included in full), and following that the council will work on its first annual plan using its own parameters, to come into effect in July 2012.

Management of stormwater & sewage has always been done on the basis of minimal input until disaster threatens – the Mangere treatment plant was built only after sewage pumped into the Waitemata Harbour reached extreme levels, and the North Shore City Council built the Rosedale wastewater treatment plant only after pollution of its coastline reached unacceptable levels.

A programme is under way to separate & clean the sewage & stormwater flows from the inner western suburbs of the isthmus through the Meola Creek & Motions Creek catchments.

The draft implementation plan proposed by the Auckland Council’s stormwater unit proposes a quantum leap, shifting from reaction to problems to a preventative approach.

What the forum agreed to yesterday was a framework to deal consistently with stormwater flows in all 10 major catchments of the whole region, while recognising each one also has specific issues. Council stormwater staff will report back to the forum in September on recommended changes and hope to have the framework finalised in December.

Only after that will they get down to prioritising projects for specific areas. Meanwhile, numerous projects continue roughly on the bases set by the previous councils.

Several councillors spoke yesterday of the need for cost:benefit evaluations, although the framework is being devised for long-term change which in most cases won’t result in immediately apparent improvements, and such evaluations will therefore be hard to produce.

But it was screamingly obvious, from the sidelines, that such evaluations are necessary if the waters around Auckland are to be cleaned up, no matter how hard it is to calculate them. Because, as a less sexy infrastructure area involving large lumps of capital spending, management of stormwater & wastewater is more easily deferred than headline projects. Deputy mayor Penny Hulse noted: “We’ve never put a proper value on a clean environment. We’ve never actually said a contaminant-free Ngataringa Bay (for example) is worth $44 million, so how do we then cost back from there the value of the work we do?”

At this point, the intervention of the Maori statutory board becomes highly relevant. Although appointment of Maori board representatives was opposed by status quo ideologues, board representatives have made it clear they’re guardians of the environment and proponents of policies which identify & avoid damage, and they’ve frequently brought councillors back to those fundamentals.

At yesterday’s forum meeting, board member Glen Tupuhi recommended the council start positioning “for the inevitability of treaty settlements. There’s going to be a shortage of cash so there will need to be other arrangements which are robust & durable”. The forum agreed on a recommendation that “the Auckland Plan & statutory planning documents identify impact statements, including forecasting implications of Treaty of Waitangi co-governance & co-management arrangements in Crown legislation”.

Designing a framework is also made more difficult by the structure of the council & its agencies, so work may be carried out by Watercare Ltd & Transport Auckland, each with its own policies & priorities.

Nevertheless, council stormwater development & technical services manager Matthew Davis told the forum yesterday the stormwater unit could produce further reports on the status of catchments, evaluation techniques & particular projects.

Mr Tupuhi didn’t get an immediate answer from Mr Davis on a question about the effect of new environmental regulations & enhancement projects on housing affordability; the aim of the framework is to improve management so, in the long term, houses aren’t built in inappropriate places.

On the adoption of a catchment approach to future planning processes, Mr Davis said the council would have to consider “no go” areas, low-impact & water-sensitive design and improving outcomes during redevelopment.

Under a no-go policy, growth would be diverted from catchments with outstanding, significant & sensitive receiving environments.

Under the draft stormwater implementation plan, the council would “work with natural systems, not against them – using & protecting natural waterways, flowpaths & floodplains rather than always seeking engineering solutions”.

Under the long-term vision for stormwater management, the council would “establish strategic outcomes for growth & development”. Hower, Mr Davis told the forum: “It is the unit’s current view that funding levels are well below that required to achieve current community aspirations, support & maintain services associated with growth across the region and meet stormwater contaminant reductions in priority areas.”

Although Cllr Hulse was all for mitigation & preventative measures as outlined by staff, she also expressed surprise that the stormwater budget had been squeezed to the extent staff indicated by councillors’ desire to keep the rates rise for the year under 4%.

But stormwater unit manager Grant Ockleston was unequivocal: “The outcomes for 2012 year have been reduced to meet council budget….

“I don’t believe we have sufficient funding to maintain the stormwater ponds we have. There are over 400 ponds and 70% of them don’t have management plans. In the primary cuts to the budgets, the capital funding came down by 30%. Admittedly the proposal I put to the finance people was what we can deliver next year.

“There are a large number of homes at risk of flooding across the region – past methods of development have exacerbated this. It is better to avoid building homes in flood plains rather than fixing them afterwards….

“We also need regional objectives & priorities to drive the right outcomes. The vast majority of outcomes are determined by land use planning & transport management. We need guidance from this forum on whether we’ve got it right at a strategic level. Then we will seek local board & stakeholder input, then a range of scenarios you can consider recommending to the council. We aim to complete the plan in December.”

As an example of the longer vision, at the Mahurangi Habour (Warkworth), where the forum agreed to support the community’s enhancement programme, Mr Ocklesworth said: “Essentially you have a land-use change, land stripped of vegetation resulted in sediment going into the harbour. What we’re talking about here is to return some of that land back to its original state. That will take a number of years.”

Cllr Des Morrison – deputy chairman of the strategy & finance committee and the one councillor most notable for taking the rest of the council back to considering the financial impact of every proposal – said: “We’re all suffering from the same problem, that we’re trying to work in a strategic vacuum. Whilst we do not have a spatial plan & a long-term plan – that we’re working on, and we’re still working on the unitary plan – it’s quite easy to sit here and box away at shadows.

“You will have to modify this (stormwater plan) by what comes out of the spatial plan… and what funding is available & affordable. Then we can have sensible discussions on some of those things that are missing at the moment. In December, some of those plans will still be in draft form and staff will have to start looking at the gap analysis.”

Want to comment? Go to the forum.

 

Attribution: Council forum meeting, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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2 council committees endorse waste strategy & bylaw options, stop short of prioritising takeover

Published 16 March 2011

One Auckland Council committee endorsed an option yesterday for the council to control more of the region’s waste processing, and another followed up in the afternoon to integrate the development of a new bylaw.

The regional development & operations committee supported the recommendation from the council’s environment & sustainability forum to opt the third of 3 options as the preferred strategic direction for waste management & minimisation.

The first option was to continue with the status quo, under which the council controls only 15% of waste going to landfill. The council’s infrastructure & environmental services manager, John Dragicevich, said this wouldn’t satisfy the council’s requirements under the Waste Management Act or the national strategy targets for 2010.

Option 2 provided for new systems to maximise diversion, such as garden & food waste to compost & energy production, but Mr Dragicevich said this would still reduce waste to landfill by only 5-9%.

The third option was to add “operational influence” over the entire waste stream through a mix of methods, which needed to be tested.

There was some opposition to this from Cllrs Cameron Brewer & George Wood, and Cllr Brewer questioned the proposal to override any finding that it was anti-competitive by seeking clearance from the Commerce Commission.

Mr Dragicevich said the proposal was to introduce the strategy in a stepped process, starting with rigorous analysis of the business case. The target is to have a new plan in place by 1 July 2012.

Cllr Brewer questioned choosing an option before the cost implications were known, but Mr Dragicevich said: “You have to answer the yes or no question first, and (after that) there’s a whole lot of ways to deliver the service.” What was needed first, he said, was the framework for a robust system.

Cllr Brewer asked if it was the council intention to go into competition with the 15 transfer stations that were privately owned: “I don’t believe we have proof that the private sector is doing a bad job.”

But Mr Dragicevich said none of those decisions had been made yet: “It may lead to a path of mutual benefit, we don’t know. We’re not saying industry is doing a bad job (but) the big players are volume-driven and the only way to get a return to their shareholders is to put more through.”

The council’s regulatory & bylaws committee had 2 options to consider – retaining the legacy bylaws of the 7 predecessor territorial councils until the new waste plan is finalised in 2012 and developing a consolidated bylaw in the 4 months before those old bylaws are revoked in October 2012, or going through the consultation process to develop a new consolidated bylaw now.

It opted for the now. Under that proposal, the council would create either a single bylaw that regulates solid waste collection across the whole enlarged city, providing control over all transfer stations & the transport of waste and controlling cleanfills, or alternatively creating separate bylaws for each part of the process.

The procedure now is to finalise both the proposed plan & bylaw by June with reports back to the 2 committees in July, consultation in September, a hearing & deliberation by the end of the year, approval by the council of a new plan & bylaw in March 2012, to be made operative by April.

Environment & sustainability forum chairman Wayne Walker wanted to give priority to the council managing the transfer station market under contract by negotiating terms with industry and using legislative & regulatory means to get its way, but withdrew that proposal after a couple of councillors spoke against it and he saw more opposition coming.

Want to comment? Go to the forum.

 

Attribution: Council committee meetings & agendas, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Manukau worries that Watercare sewerage plan will determine land use planning

Published 23 September 2008

Manukau City councillors want Watercare Services Ltd to reconsider its $3.4 billion preferred option for expanding Auckland’s sewerage capacity to cater for a population up to 2.5 million.

 

A key concern is that the choice of wastewater service will decide land use.

 

The favoured long-term scheme would require expansion of the Mangere wastewater treatment plant in the south-west and North Shore City Council’s Rosedale plant in the north-east, so each one could treat sewage from 1.5 million people.

 

Manukau councillors at the council’s policy & activities committee last Thursday didn’t like the concentration of service at just 2 plants, preferring options of up to 4 plants and schemes which would send sewage out to the Tasman Sea, including one with a 40km discharge pipe, mostly under the sea.

 

Watercare put up 14 options in April and sought feedback from councils by 30 September. It gave the schemes discharging into the Tasman Sea low scores on the ability to get resource consent, feasibility & social acceptance.

 

The Manukau committee went with a report from its environmental sustainability & infrastructure group manager, Mohammed Hassan, which raised numerous questions about the Watercare assumptions & preferences, and said more work on the options was needed before a final choice was made. The council also wants to be involved in further assessments.

 

Watercare wants to avoid reverse sensitivity by having the choice of treatment plant location made well in advance, but decisions on plant & network cost, location & flexibility will also influence the timing & location of land use.

 

The draft Watercare strategic plan says: “The delivery of 3 waters services is inextricable linked to land use planning, which is undertaken by regional & district councils and, consequently, is outside the control of network operators.

 

The 3 waters strategic planning programme is being undertaken to reflect:

 

current land use & development areas as defined in regional & district planning documents, in particular the regional growth strategypossible areas outside the current metropolitan urban limits that could be developed in the future, andprojected population growth to 2100 that will affect future land-use patterns.”

The plan goes on to say it’s been prepared “to service the needs of the community in accordance with known requirements and to respond to changing future needs, not to constrain growth by limiting access to 3 waters services”.

 

Mr Hassan said in his report he was concerned at the lack of land use planning with the draft Watercare plan. He said the strategic planning programme to follow adoption of the draft plan “seems to be undertaking roles that generally fall to the councils – for example, defining possible areas outside of the metropolitan areas for future development.

 

“No consideration has been given to more intensive land uses or urban renewal, and how these planning options may be used to enhance 3 waters management.”

 

Councillors supported his recommendation that a multi-disciplinary team of experts should undertake further research – and that council staff should be there “to ensure there is integration with land-use planning and a fair consideration of all 4 well-beings (social, environmental, economic & cultural).”

 

A particular concern for Manukau is the disposal of biosolids in the long term. The strategic plan sees this being done for the next 35 years at the Mangere treatment plant’s pond 2 landfill, then at Puketutu Island.

 

Increasing the capacity of the Mangere pond, currently under appeal, could extend its life to 2012, while the preferred wastewater option is to extend the Mangere plant so it can treat the sewage of an extra 500,000-1.5 million people, doubling the 300 tonnes/day of biosolids (equal to 10 large truckloads) coming from the plant.

 

“While the draft strategic plan mentions ongoing trials for alternative uses of biosolids, such as application to forests or turning it into a commercial product like compost, it is silent about any other options,” Mr Hassan said.

 

“Officers consider it unsustainable to use landfills for the disposal of biosolids for another 50 years after Puketutu Island is at capacity, as it would affect the region’s landfill capacity for taking other waste types. Further, the costs of taking biosolids to a landfill of the magnitude envisaged with an increasing population, increasing fuel costs, road usage by heavy trucks and added air, water & noise pollution, are considered prohibitive.”

 

Mr Hassan said communities had to be consulted on this plan, but so far the only consultation had been with councils through expert groups Watercare had set up.

 

Want to comment? Email [email protected].

 

Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Rodney mayor wants Government infrastructure funding expanded to wastewater

Published 3 February 2008

Rodney mayor Penny Webster wants the Government to fund for new wastewater plants in rural townships. Responding to the release of the Environment NZ report which found reduced water quality in many rural areas, Mrs Webster said much of the problem was caused by substandard or non-existent wastewater systems in small towns & villages: “Water quality is an issue for councils. But in districts such as Rodney the balance of upgrading systems or putting in new systems has to be weighed against the impact on rates.“Government subsidies exist for infrastructure such as roading, I think it’s time to look at subsidies for water & wastewater treatment plants.” She said many rural township properties in Rodney were on septic tanks but, with urban intensification, systems were needed to deal with the pressures now being put on the environment: “But that can’t happen from local rates. The Government needs to recognise that, and to assist our ratepayers & communities.”

 

Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email [email protected].

 

Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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