3 Jun 2020

Synlait argues Pokeno factory is allowed to be there

3:10 pm on 3 June 2020

Dairy company Synlait has argued historic restrictions are no longer relevant to land where a factory now operates.

Spoon with infant formula

Synlait's infant formula plant in Pokeno started production in September. Photo: 123rf

Its $260 million infant formula plant in northern Waikato started production in September 2019.

Previous owners had placed covenants on the land, restricting its use to farming, forestry or lifestyle developments.

The covenants were overturned by the High Court; then reinstated by the Court of Appeal.

At the Supreme Court today, Synlait's lawyer Julian Miles QC said the land had changed to being rezoned industrial.

He said that had a huge impact on what could be done with the land.

Miles said the historic covenants were now largely irrelevant.

"The change in immediate neighbourhood has effectively reduced the significance of the covenants - and hence the use of the land," he said.

Miles said another infant formula plant was in the area - and that was not in dispute.

Synlait's neighbour, New Zealand Industrial Park, held the covenants as the dominant land owner.

It questioned Synlait's legal right to build the factory.

New Zealand Industrial Park wanted to establish a quarry, but that was now difficult, as a result of the factory.