18 Aug 2009

Waitaki welcomes cement works win

8:55 am on 18 August 2009

An Environment Court decision backing a $500 million cement plant near Oamaru has been welcomed by Waitaki District Mayor Alex Familton.

But cement company Holcim's win in the Environment Court against an appeal to build the plant in north Otago to replace its Westport site is not good news for the Buller district.

While a final decision by Holcim's parent company is some time away, Mr Familton says the possibility of 120 permanent jobs and 450 construction jobs for two years is great for Waitaki district.

But it would also mean 130 jobs would go in Westport and the port itself would lose more than 90% of its business.

Buller Mayor Pat McManus says the council is already working on how to encourage smaller industries to help make up the shortfall.

In a 100-page decision, the Environment Court confirmed the more than 40 resource consents needed for the plant.

Holcim New Zealand has seven years to make use of the consents.

The company wants the option to build a plant at Weston with the potential to produce nearly 900,000 tonnes of cement a year.

However, it has not decided if it will go ahead and replace its plant at Cape Foulwind, near Westport.

One of the appellants, Waiareka Valley Preservation Society, says it accepts the court's decision and will not take any more legal action.

Spokesperson Rodney Jones says a cement works will have a profound effect in the valley and locals hope it will not go ahead.