9 Feb 2018

Otorohanga formula factory granted land consent

5:49 pm on 9 February 2018

A new $230 million dairy factory in King Country has been granted land consent despite local opposition.

Happy Valley Milk

An artist's impression of the proposed factory Photo: Supplied

A report from the Otorohanga District Council last November said the factory should not go ahead because it would impact on the local ecology, landscape, and rural character.

However, after two months of deliberation the council has now granted Happy Valley Milk the land consent to build its infant formula factory.

Public submissions included concerns about the factory drawing too much water from the ground, and discharging stormwater, wastewater, and air pollution.

The neighbouring wildlife sanctuary was also worried that the development would threaten its protected species by draining the wetland and driving the local bats away.

Local farmer and Fonterra shareholder council chair Duncan Coull is part of a group fighting against the factory.

Incoming chairman Duncan Coull.

Duncan Coull Photo: Supplied/Fonterra

The group was yet to decide whether to appeal the consent decision, he said.

A few things about the decision did not add up, including the structure of the company, which was not set up as a farmer-owned-co-operative, he said.

"Any profit associated with such activity will not lie in the Otorohanga community, but lie with the shareholders - who as I understand will not live and operate in New Zealand."

The Auckland-based nutrition company is 37 percent foreign-owned by Hong Kong, South Africa, and Australian shareholders.

The company was still unclear about where it would get water from and how it would get rid of wastewater, Mr Coull said.

"The current proposed site in my view is an ecological risk and disaster waiting to happen."

Happy Valley Milk still had to apply for water consents through the Waikato Regional Council.

Locals who opposed the factory would be demanding answers during that process, Mr Coull said.

Company director Randolph van der Burgh said it was a relief to get the land consent.

"We're looking forward to moving ahead rapidly with finalising the final regional consents.

"That should be another three months or so before that's done ... Once that's in place we can look at starting construction."

The company was not surprised consent had been granted, he said.

"It's an area that's screaming out for business and we'll hopefully be one of the largest businesses in the Otorohanga region, and that will benefit the whole region."

The company had worked with stakeholders over three main issues, Mr van der Burgh said.

"Those are the ecological effects, particularly the wetland area. Secondly, the visual impact on some of the neighbours; thirdly the water issue.

"We've been doing a lot of work on that and once everybody sees the details of those plans ... they should be hopefully happy with that."