More milk to flow out of the Waikato
Open Country Dairy has been given the nod to move ahead with plans to expand its factory in the Waikato.
It will mean the company’s plant at Waharoa, in the Matamata-Piako district, will have the ability to process about 5000m3, or 5 million litres, of milk per day.
Waikato Regional Council released its decision to grant Open Country Dairy resource consent for the upgrade.
The milk processing factory operated two coal-fired boilers, a whey dryer and a whole milk powder dryer. The consent would allow it to add an additional coalfired boiler, operating up to 24 hours a day, and another milk powder dryer, operating for up to 20 years a day.
Independent Hearings Commissioner Kevin Mahon, on behalf of the council, considered the pros and cons of the upgrade proposal during a two-day public hearing, in Walton, in April.
His decision was to grant the company a new 25-year resource consent to operate the upgraded factory.
Seven submissions opposed the upgrade but only one person, Earl Forrester, presented to the hearing from this group.
He spoke on behalf of Ngati Rangi and Ngati Haua residents opposed to the application.
Forrester said people were worried about the effects on the environment from air pollution. He raised the matter of farming effluent being discharged into the local environment and rivers.
He referred to the occasional discharge of fumes from the stack on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6pm and asked if the power boiler could be converted from coal to gas.
He also said there needed to be improved communication and interaction by the company with the local community.
Key issues and common themes among others opposed included the effects on air quality and health of the nearby Waharoa community, increased noise levels as a result of the expansion and previous odour issues created by other companies.
Consultant Deborah Ryan gave an updated report on air emissions at the hearing.
Overall she considered the conditions Open Country Dairy needed to meet to operate the upgraded factory would address the concerns of submitters.
The company said the upgrade would lead on to ‘‘positive socioeconomic’’ effects.
It would enable it to increase the capacity of the milk processing factory, further contributing to employment opportunities and its economic value to the district.
The site was considered to be an appropriate location for the existing milk processing factory and the expansion was considered to be an efficient use of an existing resource.
Commissioner Mahon, in his decision, said he ‘‘largely’’ accepted the comments by the company, except that it was not obligated to employ people from the local job market.
‘‘So this positive economic effect is not tainty.’’
Open Country Dairy’s commercial head office is in Auckland, it has a whole milk powder factory in Whanganui and another in Awanui, near Invercargill. socioa cer-
The Waharoa plant will be able to increase its production capacity.