More milk to flow out of the Waikato

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - LAWRENCE GULLERY

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.

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