Time to Take Out the Trash

Waste to Energy for Auckland?


Auckland currently sends to the landfill (according to the last lot of statistics) 1.1 MILLION tonnes of trash. That is a crap-load of trash being buried into our grounds. Councillor George Wood has just returned from Taipei where he (and the Mayor) checked out a municipal incinerator that burns Taipei City’s refuse (industrial, residential and commercial). Here is a translated version from George Wood on the Taipei City Incinerator:


It has been proposed by Councillor Wood that Auckland should investigate and if deemed feasible (a plant of the size of Taipei City costs $400m estimate) build such an incinerator for Auckland. I propose one better and go the full hog in building a Waste to Energy Incinerator to take care of our trashy trash! Basically that means the trash is burnt at extremely high heat (1000-1200C), the waste heat is then either used to boil water (good cooling circuit for a furnace burning at 1000c) to produce steam and crank that turbine for electricity generation or sent to heavy industry nearby for use, and the ash used to make bricks or roads.

To get more of an idea from WtE, check my previous article on the matter:



Council Continues to Debate Rubbish



Strangely enough how to deal with waste that makes it to the landfills is very easy and the First World have mastered it quite well. Its called incineration folks and we already have a mothballed power plant ready to rock and roll. Yep you heard me right; what does not get recycled, composted or used as fill can be burnt with the ashes used as bricks or other materials as pointed out in the accompanying Wiki article. The wiki article along with its references, burning the rubbish – waste to energy seems to have quite few spin offs including being better for the environment gas emission wise:

Carbon dioxide emissions

In thermal WtE technologies, nearly all of the carbon content in the waste is emitted as carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere (when including final combustion of the products from pyrolysis and gasification; except when producing bio-char for fertilizer). Municipal solid waste (MSW) contain approximately the same mass fraction of carbon as CO2 itself (27%), so treatment of 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) of MSW produce approximately 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) of CO2.

In the event that the waste was landfilled, 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) of MSW would produce approximately 62 cubic metres (2,200 cu ft) methane via the anaerobic decomposition of the biodegradable part of the waste. This amount of methane has more than twice the global warming potential than the 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) of CO2, which would have been produced by combustion. In some countries, large amounts of landfill gas are collected, but still the global warming potential of the landfill gas emitted to atmosphere in e.g. the US in 1999 was approximately 32 % higher than the amount of CO2 that would have been emitted by combustion.[15]

In addition, nearly all biodegradable waste is biomass. That is, it has biological origin. This material has been formed by plants using atmospheric CO2 typically within the last growing season. If these plants are regrown the CO2 emitted from their combustion will be taken out from the atmosphere once more.

Such considerations are the main reason why several countries administrate WtE of the biomass part of waste as renewable energy.[16] The rest—mainly plastics and other oil and gas derived products—is generally treated as non-renewables.

Go figure



Meremere which was designed to become a Waste to Energy Plant until the Greens stopped it (idiots) would be a good site with road, transport and power grid links all within easy reach. Basically trash goes by road or rail to Meremere, burnt, and the juice sent via the National Grid straight back up to Auckland. Simple

Southdown/Penrose has a gas fired co-generation power station (so produces power and steam for industrial use) already there connected to the National Grid and disused meat works site next door that needs major urban redevelopment. Like Meremere, Southdown sites with extremely easy reach of road, rail and power grid links but with the added bonus of having industry near by that would use the waste heat for their usage (ACI Glass being one example and only just down the road). The extra spin-off with Southdown is it is right in the middle of Auckland so no need for excessive waste transportation for incineration.

If you are concerned about the emissions from a waste to energy plant, then go read the wiki article and more to the point its references attached. It seems the developed world can handle it so we should be able to as well, because we are First or Third World folks?

Landfills = third world

Recycling, Composting and Waste to Energy = First World.

Zero Waste = near impossible as even Earth and the Sun produces some rather nasty waste from time to time (although the Universe has a knack at recycling too)


So Auckland Council, lets keep it simple please.


The Penrose site I have here below in this graphic:



Click for full resolution

The site highlighted is around 7.5 hectares, similar size to the 7.2ha site in Taipei City. The area I am proposing in Southdown is the old freezing works site long abandoned (since 1980) and burnt to the ground twice already. The area is in heavy industrial land (so no residential) right next to the North Auckland Line (rail), Southdown Co-generation Power Station, and the North Auckland transmission line (part of the National Grid). So with the right scrubbers and pollution control measures in place, this site at Southdown would be perfect for Auckland’s first Waste to Energy Plant with full road and rail access. And with the site right next to the power station and National Grid, the power produced from the WtE plant can be fed directly to Auckland and Northland with waste heat also able to be fed along the pipeline from the power station next door to industry. So cleaner for the environment, we get some juice, industry gets heat and the Roads of National Significance gets some ash for road building . I’d say that is a win-win-win for the city 😀


Now then, to get that investigation and plant building going so Auckland can take care of her trash!



Unitary Plan as Thick as a Brick

Unitary Plan On the Path to Already Fail


To quote me from Facebook:

“When the Unitary Plan appears to be thicker than your average Bible at home, you know there is something VERY wrong here – with our planners and planning process…”


Now hopefully that is not true; but after I asked this morning in Facebook to those who have seen the Unitary Plan in its preliminary stages, I am rather not looking forward to seeing the Unitary Plan thus far hopefully next week. The actual answer to my question on the thickness was this: “it’s so thick it’s stupid,” so confidence in the Unitary Plan has already gone down the toilet – cute…


Yesterday in my K.I.S.S post I said this in regards on the Unitary Plan and simplicity:

The Late Owen McShane taught me that any “plan” over a thumbnail in thickness (on A4 paper – no cheating with A3) is a: dead weight, too complex, and albatross around the city and ratepayers neck. I would be a case of Gin that the Unitary Plan is going to be thicker than my thumbnail to the point it is going to be thick as my fist (yes that means the plan makes a fist of things). The K.I.S.S rule needs applied to the unitary plan, but to do that in benefit of the city, 3/4 of our bureaucratic and Stalinist Planning Department in Council would be all out of a job. Maybe that might be a good thing?

Thumbnail in thickness being the absolute maximum that ANY operating plan should be! Well it seems the Unitary Plan is going to fail that little test so I devised some crude measurements here.

I measured the thickness of thickest and largest Bible in the house; the NIV Life Application Bible standing at 48mm (4.8cm) and some 2385 pages in thickness. I also measured the thickness of my thumbnail which stood at 18mm (1.8cm) which means in theory the Unitary Plan using A4 paper (A3 for any maps – I’ll be generous there) should not be thicker than 20mm (2.0cm) at the absolute maximum. However again that does not seem likely.

So lets take a look at some pictures (and yes they are crude) for reference to thicknesses here folks:



9mm (94 pages) in thickness (or half a thumbnail) when both my submissions to the Auckland and Long Term Plans are combined. With 18mm being the thickness of my thumbnail (make it 20mm for a tolerance factor) and applying the K.I.S.S rule quoted above, the Unitary Plan should not be longer than 200 pages or both my submissions doubled up in thickness. But no we are seriously looking at a massive behemoth that is looking to be as thick as our largest Bible at home.

Heavens sake what is wrong with our planners – do they not understand thrift and simplicity? Obviously not or I would not be writing this post.


However I have some good news folks for all those who like simplicity, efficiency and wanting Council and planners to get the heck out of the our lives (and the road too). I am off to the “Civic Forum to discuss the Auckland Unitary Plan” on Tuesday 23 October and Saturday 27 October at Auckland Town Hall. So ideas abound once I get my first glimpse of this Unitary Plan. And yes I shall endeavour to “shrink” the Unitary Plan so it is no thicker than one’s thumbnail in the line of two of my eight fundamentals for a Better Auckland:

  • Strong but no interfering Governance: Meaning Council  shows active and real leadership but does not interfere with the daily lives of residents and businesses
  • Stay out of my way: I believe in the following strongly “Individual Freedom -> Individual Choice -> Individual Responsibility (oh and do not forget the consequences)”   I am an adult who can make choices for myself (whether it was right or wrong), treat me as such rather than a child.


So lets hope that at this Civic Forum this crucial fundamental will apply:

  • Listen and Engage: God gave us two ears and one mouth. In my line of work you actively listen with both ears THEN engage in dialogue with your one mouth. Not the other way around as that is usually monologue and the fastest way to get your ears clipped. Same applies to civic institutions:  you actively listen with both ears THEN engage in dialogue with your one mouth unless you like getting your ears clipped… Oh and remember some days all the person wants you to do is JUST LISTEN to their little piece – as all we want some days is just to get it off our chests.


Dialogue not monologue (from the bureaucrats and Councillors)!

BR:AKL will run commentary as I attend this Civic Forum on the Unitary Plan and the outcomes from it.


Stay tuned as I strive for you a Better Auckland – and hoping like anything the Unitary Plan does not become as thick or thicker than my Bible as that would be really thick!



Shining The Light –
To a Better Auckland

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL


Out Meeting the Locals

At Public Meeting on Liquor Store Application


Tonight I was notified of a public meeting facilitated by Papakura Councillor Calum Penrose (so my local Councillor) here in Papakura (my home and community) on opposition to a liquor store being opened in the area. So I trundled down to Papakura Central School where the meeting was held, said my hellos and took a seat to listen to proceedings. Normally in public meetings (as well as hearings) I might get up and ask questions or have a say, but tonight this was new territory for me so it was a case of sit quietly and observe what was going on in this public meeting.


This Facebook status sums up what the meeting was on:


A great turnout in Pahurehure, Papakura tonight – 120 residents turned out in objection to a liquor store proposed for their corner block of shops. Excellent leadership from Calum Penrose for Papakura and Manurewa, he is pictured here with his friend and popular local JP Raj Thandi and Manurewa Local Board Chair Angela Dalton. Aways on hand to give my sister town Papakura my personal support. Photography by Daniel Newman – nice job, good angle 😉

Calum Penrose, Raj Thandi, and Angela Dalton working to stop the opening of a liquor store in Pahurehure.


I also posted a Facebook staus:


Attended my first public meeting inside my on Local Ward (Maurewa-Papakura) on opposition to a Liquor Outlet being opened in the area. Was a good discussion lead by Local Councillor Calum Penrose. — with Daniel Newman and Angela Dalton.


As I said above; while I have been to public meetings before they have been outside my Ward (so Orakei and North Shore), this one in Papakura as I stated in my Facebook status my first LOCAL public meeting – so new territory.

But while new territory tonight, it was also an excellent learning experience for me. There was a chance to mingle afterwards where I would make introductions and conduct some networking like I have done in Orakei and The North Shore; however a fatality on the Western Line tonight (groan) forced me to return home to support Rebekka who had her shift extended by half to assist with all the “disruption” that goes with a fatality.

But in saying that, while tonight was my first LOCAL public meeting where I got to observe the locals in my or rather our own local community, it shall not be my last!

The people present are locals, fellow locals in our fellow community that is Papakura, and the very people I wish to represent next year after the Local Government 2013 elections. So my focus is returning home Auckland, to Papakura. Yes I will keep an eye out for wider Auckland, especially as the Regional Public Transport Plan and Unitary Plan are either up or coming up for submissions. But attention is now back to the home front as it is where I live, play, work (in part) and shop. That home as I have said is Papakura.

Yes I will still attend submission hearings and pop over to other Wards in Auckland to pay a visit, but my primary attention and focus is now returning home – to Papakura.


So look out Papakura, you shall be seeing more of me 😀



Shining the Light with You – Towards a Better Papakura






Shining the Light – To a Better Auckland

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL




Our Council Controlled Organisations

How Well do Our CCOs Rate?


Bernard Orsman of the NZ Herald wrote a two part series about Auckland‘s Council Controlled Organisations – a.k.a The Auckland Bureaucracy.

You can read the respective articles in the list below:



What was interesting first up was the fact that the some of the CCO‘s could be up for a merge, or downsizing. That is fine with me to get some savings back to the ratepayer so long as our services are not affected.


Although what was more “interesting” is what Orakei Local Board Chair Desley Simpson had to say on the Herald’s series about our errant CCOs:

 Saving $ is great but what I am interested in is the improvement in communication and interaction with local boards Hope this will be reviewed at the same time Happy to input!

That prompted this remark from me:

  • Ben Ross Might be finding both Local Boards and normal ratepayers wanting to give input to OUR errant CCOs. But the CCO that needs the largest kick up the backside can not be touched due to the law…
  • Desley Simpson No guesses needed as to what you are referring to there Ben!


Upon reflection of that comment, ATEED is the CCO that needs the biggest kick up the backside for the amount of grief that CCO has put Auckland through. From the Rugby World Cup to the V8 Pukekohe saga, ATEED seems to have the knack in really annoying Auckland ratepayers from either daft decisions or being all Secret Squirrel with Councillors and the public over some of its decision-making processes (The V8s being the most recent). So using Desley’s remark on interaction and communication, ATEED fails badly there.

As for that other CCO that we shall not name and I was initially commenting about, well I can not exactly give it a kick up the backside for interaction and communication as that CCO which we shall not name has actually improved, especially if their Twitter communication and interactions are anything to go by as that has gone for strength to strength. So thumbs up there. As for a few other things, well we shall say that is a work in progress folks and leave it that.


But at the end of the day it is the communication and interaction that the CCOs really need to work on. While at arm’s length from Council Governing Body, having a healthy and open relationship with the GB, Local Boards and the ratepayers would be a wise idea unless the CCOs want open hostility from the ratepayers on a really good day.

So I recommend to the CCO’s if they want to help boost their “street-cred” with the Local Boards and ratepayers adopt these simple philosophies and stick to them:


  1. Open Governance: I believe in open governance where the public can sit in, listen and where possible discuss “matters-of-state” as much as possible with their representatives. None of this hiding behind closed doors (except for commercially sensitive material that does come up from time to time), and fessing up when you know you have stuffed up. You might find the public are more sympathetic you one acknowledges and apologies for a legitimate mistake
  2. Basics first: One thing I learnt when I moved out from the parents’ home and struck it out in the real world (including getting married and owning our first house) is that with the limited resources you have got, you did the basics first then with anything left over you just might be able to afford a luxury. Same applies to our civic institutions; they have limited resources so get the basics right first then “treat yourself or others” to a luxury if you are able to do so once the basics are taken care of.
  3. Listen and Engage: God gave us two ears and one mouth. In my line of work you actively listen with both ears THEN engage IN DAILOUGE with your one mouth. Not the other way around as that is usually monologue and the fastest way to get your ears clipped. Same applies to civic institutions:  you actively listen with both ears THEN engage IN DAILOUGE with your one mouth unless you like getting your ears clipped… Oh and remember some days all the person wants you to do is JUST LISTEN to their little piece – as all we want some days is just to get it off our chests.


That was from my What Do I Stand For and Believe In – For a Better Auckland. Something I will be using as benchmarks if elected to Papakura Local Board next year to see how our CCO’s are  treating the ratepayers and their money. But if the Herald article from yesterday was anything to go by, all three points above need some serious working on from ALL our CCOs.


In the meantime back to submission writing!


In Brief

A Brief View of Auckland



Was a busy day in the NZ Herald today with two different articles on Auckland’s Transport, and another two on our Council Control Organisations.


The two transport articles were:


In both these cases I have run commentary on these and are giving specific mention in my submission to Auckland Transport‘s Regional Public Transport Plan. Further commentary will be at hand as the week advances and I continue my RPTP submission.


As for the other two articles covering our CCO‘s, they were:


In regards to these issues, I have run commentary on this before and it seems I will be doing so again here at BR:AKL again this week if not next week. CCO’s being secretive is one of my pet hates and a campaign plank as I run for Papakura Local Board in next year’s Local Government 2013 Elections.


So yes today was a very busy day in the NZ Herald, with plenty more to campaign on for a Better Auckland here at BR:AKL!



Shining The Light –
To a Better Auckland

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL


Papakura Set for ‘Large’ Housing Development

Upwards of 500 “Low Cost” Housing to be Built – In Papakura


We all know housing affordability in Auckland sucks with the Demographia Affordability rating being around 5.3 or “severely unaffordable (affordable is at 3.0 meaning the total cost of a home purchase should not exceed three times the total annual income of the household living in it. Currently Rebekka and I sit around the 3.52 mark). All sorts of measures are trying to be taken to allow the average person to at least being able to afford their very own house to live in. In this particular case Housing New Zealand has put out a tender to the private sector for the construction of upwards of 500 new homes that are: state houses, social housing and full private houses. The NZ Herald explains:


From the NZH:

Big low cost homes job set to start

By Simon Collins

5:30 AM Friday Oct 12, 2012



Housing New Zealand is seeking a private partner to build houses on former Papakura army camp land.

Earthworks for Auckland’s biggest low-cost housing development in 25 years will start next month on land that used to be part of the Papakura army base.

Housing New Zealand is seeking a private sector partner to build between 450 and 500 homes on the 24ha site between Walters Rd and McLennan Park. Tenders close on October 16.

Its general manager of asset development, Sean Bignell, said the homes would be a mix of 10 per cent state houses, 20 per cent other social housing and 70 per cent for private sale at prices likely to be “in the high 200s to the high 300s” – putting most of them below the lower quartile mark of Auckland residential properties sold this year.

Finance Minister Bill English said recently that high land prices had skewed Auckland builders towards large, high-value houses, and there was “no housing being built for people in the lowest quartile of income”.

“That is clearly unsustainable,” he said.

A start on the Papakura project comes as Housing NZ bows out of another long-planned 10ha development next to the Weymouth child welfare home, which the new Social Housing Unit in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has allocated to “third-sector” social and affordable housing.


If you want to know where approximately, check the map below


Click for full resolution


So between 450-500 new houses are to be built in the vicinity to where I live. Hmm means its going to be noisy and dusty for a while but I am not particularly minding too much. Look we need more “affordable” housing and if Housing NZ can take the lead in offering this affordable housing then so be it. If I was to have any concerns it is not around the fact “low-cost” housing is about to be built in my backyard; my concern is around the urban design factor which sets the future for this large-scale project for life.

I assume the houses will be a mix of 2-4 bedrooms on sections between 400-600m2? I need to go hit up my Local Board and take a look at the plans as they are not easily found online at the moment. The plans would tell me what kind of urban design work is being done and whether the urban design method chosen will be a benefit or a total hindrance to the future of this development. And something tells me the urban design of this development is actually going to be a hindrance more than a benefit here. How so?

Quick crude maths tells me the following:

  • My house is 110m2 on 520m2 – and I have a 3 bedroom home, so that means I have a front and back yard
  • The new development site is 24 hectares or 240,000m2
  • Divide the 240,000 into 500 houses and you get 480m2, however take into account roads, paths and berms and the average lot would be around 400m2
  • Divide the 240,000 into 450s house and the figures move to 533m2 and 450m2 respectively
  • This does not take into account parks, green spaces or “alleyways”

If we want the kids to at least have a decent backyard to play in and maybe grow the vegetable garden as well (although that is a lost art in Auckland) I would suggest 450m2 sections for three and four bedroom houses would be a generous and comfortable size. Anything smaller and we get no yard space for the kids and that can generate problems if there are no parks nearby. And no Bruce Pulman Park does not count unless you want to cross a very busy Walters Road while the McLennan Park is often used for sports. From what I have also gleamed from the graphic for this new development, thankfully the roads inside the new development are grid which promotes easy of traffic (foot and vehicle) flow while mitigating against the Fear of Crime perception that often comes about in urban development. However there are only two ways in and out of the development (so connecting to main roads) which could be a bit of a pain and isolating factor to this new development. In fact the lack of access to the main roads could isolate this new development and lack of accessibility can mean crime can fester inside the development.

In all that regard, I am going to have to go take a look at the plans to see what is exactly proposed. As I said nothing wrong with new development even in my backyard (I knew things like this would happen in Papakura when we chose to move here), but piss-poor urban design that turns this much needed housing into a crime-bed will not go down particularly well with me.


Now as for public transport access. This development is somewhat isolated from the main bus network which runs up and down the Great South Road. Rail-wise you have Takanini and Papakura Station both within 5-minutes of each other although 450 new houses will put pressure on Papakura’s existing Park and Ride which is already short of spaces. This new development would be the perfect time for Auckland Transport to haul arse and get the new Walters Road Rail Station along with a Park and Ride (with 450 spaces) and shuttle bus bay to serve Papakura north, Addison, Takanini east and the new development soon to be built. Trying to encourage public transport with Walters Road Station and Park and Ride would be a good start in improving public transport accessibility, especially for our new residents soon to move in.

Papakura Local Board as well as myself support and are advocating to AT on the Walters Road Station, this new development PLUS the continued development of Addison would be the perfect catalyst into getting our new station by 2015!

I have written in previous submissions as well as the current submission I am writing (the AT Regional Public Transport Plan) for the construction of Walters Road Station, and am making it an election campaign pledge to continue to have the station built sooner rather than later in the Local Government Elections next year!


But in the mean time, I shall go search those plans for this new development.


Family Pass Hard To Get

Yes We Know You Can Not Get Family Passes for the Train Easy Any-More


The guys over at Transport Blog picked up and ran with a post on the lack of accessibility to get a Family Pass for the trains, for a day out as currently being seen in the school holidays:

By cbtadmin, on October 11th, 2012
…This policy discriminates against any family that doesn’t live near the three stations mentioned. For instance a family of 5 wanting to travel from the new Manukau Station to Britomart return will have to pay  ($6.80 x 2) + ($4 x 3) = $25.60 x 2 = $51.20 return!  The same family of 5 going from Britomart to Manukau return could get the $24 family pass….


Sorry to say guys but where have you been for the last three to four weeks – seriously?!

BR:AKL picked up on the Family Pass issue last month and ran an extensive post on this: $57.80 FOR A RETURN TRIP ON AN AUCKLAND TRAIN


The BR:AKL post also included all relevant public information available on the ticketing regime change as well as the Fare Matrix on the new costs of a family day out on the train due to the Family Pass issue.

I emailed every single Councillor and the Mayors Office over this situation as this was of high concern as we approach Labour Weekend and the summer holidays. Needless to say I have received a few replies back and been in extensive email conversation with Councillor Mike Lee over the Family Pass (as well as the fare affordability situation in general) issue.

BR:AKL will maintain the pressure to assure a fair and balanced outcome for family and day tripping users as it is unfair and unbalanced to get slugged $57.80 for a day in town compared to $26 if that same family went by car!


I have also made it an election campaign pledge in my running for Papakura Local Board (Local Government 2013 Elections) next year to continue the lobbying and pressure Auckland Transport to restore fair and balanced fairs for families if the situation as not been reverted by then (one year from now).



But regardless to who posted first on the Family Pass issue, the point being is that Auckland Transport needs to fix the issue NOW as there are not a lot of happy people. Actually off-peak patronage as noticeable dropped these school holidays according to feedback to BR:AKL. I wonder if that is due to the difficulty getting Day Rovers, Family Passes and Discovery Passes from the rail network now. Hmm…