A fear of toxic fumes blowing over Luggate is concerning residents faced with plans for a new sludge treatment plant only 1500m away from some homes. Only 25 people turned up to a public meeting at the community hall last week to hear Fulton Hogan’s proposal for a $1.5 million wastewater facility. But the majority made it clear to the company and Queenstown Lakes District Council staff that dumping human waste near Luggate offered them nothing but problems. ‘‘There are a lot of concerns . . . this is a windy place and we want to be convinced this toxic stuff won’t be blown over us, our cars,
residents, and children,’’ resident Jan Piggot said. Fulton Hogan hopes to partner with the council to build and operate a solar drying facility northeast of the town on the corner of McKay Rd and State Highway 8a. Currently the sludge from Wanaka and Albert Town is taken from the Project Pure plant near Wanaka Airport and transported 70km over the hill to the Victoria Flats landfill. Council manager of infrastructure and assets Erik Barnes told the meeting Luggate was chosen because Fulton Hogan owned land there and it had two neighbouring farmers willing to utilise the product from the facility. ‘‘And quite simply that’s what it comes down to.’’ But the meeting was told it would take at least three years before the dried sludge could be used for fertiliser on farmland. As well as residents’ concerns of smell, there was also the issue of decreasing land values and negative public perceptions of the town. ‘‘Building this plant will put another blight on this village,’’ resident Cyril Coombes said. Council solid waste manager Stefan Bowry confirmed there was a small risk of some odour from the plant, over a period of a few minutes, when the door was opened. Five tonnes of sludge would be transported to the facility up to three times a week. Otago Regional Council director of resource management Selva Selvarajah, who also fronted up to the meeting, questioned whether people would even know about the plant’s existence near the town. ‘‘Perception happens only when there is an issue,’’ he said. Historically, there had been ongoing issues with smell from nearby Project Pure but council staff told the meeting the filters had been improved. Fulton Hogan had to lodge resource consents with both councils for the new facility and if approved, would be operating by the end of June next year. Mr Bowry said if successful, then the logical thing would be to build another one in the Queenstown area as well.
What: Project Groundswell, a proposed solar sludge drying facility Where: North-east of Luggate near Red Bridge on corner of State Highway 8a and McKay Rd. Who: Partnership between Fulton Hogan and Queenstown Lakes District Council How much: $1.5-$1.8 million Why: Anticipated annual savings of $113,000 on current scheme. Waste: Queenstown Lakes District Council solid waste manager Stefan Bowry talks over a controversial proposal for a new sludge treatment plant with Luggate residents.