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Published: 2003-08-29 00:00:00

Environment Waikato and Matamata-Piako District Council have granted resource consents to expand a chicken broiler operation at Cussen Road, Tatuanui.

M. T. and M. A. Hart applied to the District Council for land use consent and to Environment Waikato for air discharge consent for a broiler chicken farming operation. The District Council received 10 submissions and the Regional Council two.

The applicant has operated a chicken broiler facility on an 18.4 hectare property near Tatuanui since 1985, supplying Inghams. The applicant proposes to build another two sheds towards the rear of the property, increasing capacity to approximately 162,000 birds. The rest of the property will continue to be used for stock grazing and cropping.

One neighbour was concerned that further development of the property would significantly increase the frequency and intensity of poultry odours on his two properties. This neighbour said his family had farmed in the area for many years and he considered it unacceptable that one property owner could dictate farming policy for the area.

Matamata-Piako District Council representative Christian McDean said separation distances between the submitter’s properties and the site of the new sheds were sufficient to ensure odours would be no more than minor.

Environment Waikato Resource Officer Hugh Keane said the industry had made improvements in recent years to minimise the effects of broiler shed emissions. These included improvements in feed types, improved shed design and screen planting. It was also important that sheds were sited appropriately and well managed for this type of rural land use.

The Joint Hearing Committee said it was mindful of the good track record of the applicant. Historically the site had been well run, with neither council recording complaints. The applicant had amended the proposal design in response to input from neighbours.

The Committee recognised poultry odours were a contentious issue, and that people’s perception on what constitutes a nuisance odour differed from person to person. Some rural odours appeared to be more acceptable to some people than others.

Poultry farming was a legitimate rural use and was provided for by district and regional plans, subject to certain standards. From time to time poultry odours from the applicant’s operation were detected on neighbours’ properties and the majorityof neighbours did not find the occasional poultry odour objectionable.

The odour must be sufficient to create an adverse effect and must be objectionable or offensive in the opinion of an ‘ordinary reasonable person.’ Cussen Road was characterised by a cocktail of odours caused by a variety of farming activities, the Committee said.

A well-planned landscaping programme was the key to ensure there were no significant adverse effects on neighbours.