Freedom campers, local residents could benefit from rubbish compactor at Parua Bay

By Danica MacLean

The rubbish compactor which has been installed near the Parua Bay Transfer Station. Photo/Michael Cunningham
The rubbish compactor which has been installed near the Parua Bay Transfer Station. Photo/Michael Cunningham

It's dark green in colour, looks like something from outer space and enjoys squashing things in Parua Bay.

The solar-powered, coin-operated $70,000 Watson Engineering rubbish compactor has been installed close to Parua Bay's transfer station.

It was fully funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

Whangārei District Council solid waste engineer David Lindsay said the compactor would take about 60 litres at a time, the same quantity as the council's larger rubbish bags.

So far it is the only one in the district, but Lindsay said the council are monitoring to see how it goes.

The machine costs $2 a time. The council had said people didn't need to use a bag, but after a fridge shelf got jammed in it, Lindsay is requesting people do use bags to prevent problems with jamming.

"It certainly doesn't have to be a council bag."

Lindsay said the system is monitored by CCTV cameras and will operate day and night, while the transfer station remains operation for larger loads and recycling during its established hours.

It was installed as part of a package for freedom campers, which included doing some work to the carpark opposite the rubbish compactor where freedom campers can go.

Lindsay said most of the people that use the site are dropping off bags, so if they use the compactor, the transfer station will be used less, which may also ease some of the concerns raised by some local residents about the transfer station.

The Parua Bay Transfer station has been operating without a resource consent for around 15 years. A new application for resource consent for the operation to continue as it is on a slightly bigger footprint will be heard on April 4.

A group of residents want to see the transfer site moved to a different location.

Resident Melissa Arsenault, who had been involved in the proposal for an alternative site, said she could see potential in the bin but raised concerns there had been no consultation and communication with the community.

Lindsay said it had been mentioned at a ratepayers' meeting.

"It's a service designed for freedom campers primarily and tourists at baches."

He said those groups are not necessarily able to be readily engaged with because they're not there.

Arseneault also questioned why the council would continue with its resource application if it had installed the bin.

Lindsay said "the future of the transfer station is still in question" so in the meantime the council needed to apply for consent.

The outcome of the hearing could mean the transfer station has to close, and Lindsay said it could also determine whether the rubbish compactor can stay.

- Northern Advocate

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