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Published: 2008-04-29 00:00:00

Environment Waikato and the Matamata-Piako District Council have declined consent applications concerning the combined proposal for a massive expansion of the existing McIntyre piggery operation and installation of a large 300 tonne per day organic waste digestor producing biogas at Kereone, near Morrinsville.

The current piggery – which has a history of attracting odour complaints – farms the equivalent of more than 1100 fifty-kilogram pigs.

The McIntyre family wanted to expand this to the equivalent of 22,000* fifty-kilogram pigs, with the whole new operation having a combined floor area of 42,000 square metres. A piggery this size would be the second largest in the country.

The applicant applied for a number of consents for activities such as expanding the piggery, managing odour and wastewater, discharging wastewater and building and operating a biogas-fuelled electricity generator.

It was proposed that the generator would produce electricity from biogas produced by a biogas generator which used piggery waste and industrial waste, such as expired supermarket food and waste from meat and food processing industries. Up to 300 tonnes per day of industry waste would be trucked to the site.

The total development was proposed to cost between $30 million and $60 million.

The commissioners at a joint hearing of the two councils made a number of positive remarks about the proposal. They said the waste to energy proposal was innovative and the proposal to fully capture and treat odorous air from the piggery building was well in advance of New Zealand current best practice.

However, the commissioners found there were too many risks of objectionable odour discharges involved. They said the immediate area around the proposed site was “sensitive” as it included a school and community hall, and a “cohesive local community based around a shared rural lifestyle” which was “overwhelmingly opposed” to the McIntyre expansion plan.

The committee said it was “firmly of the view that the activity should be located in an area of low sensitivity”.

Matamata-Piako District Council’s commissioner Paul Cooney said: “I am not satisfied the risk of offensive odours affecting nearby properties would be of such low probability that the risk would be acceptable within such a closely occupied rural space”. He also agreed the development would significantly affect the rural character of the area, given such things as its visual impact and associated heavy truck movements.

Environment Waikato’s commissioners Dr Jeff Jones and Dr Bruce Graham found there were likely to be “unacceptable adverse effects from the air discharges” associated with the expanded operation’s piggery buildings, an organic waste disposal business and the biogas plant.

There was no guarantee that odour containment systems would not break down, they said.

“If there was an objectionable odour from the piggery buildings, then removal of the [approximately] 30,000* pigs offsite while the odour problem was resolved would not be a realistic scenario,” Dr Jones and Dr Graham said.

For Matamata-Piako District Council, Mr Cooney formally declined the McIntyre consent applications because of the risk of objectionable odour discharges and the development’s impact on the rural character of the surrounding area.

For Environment Waikato, Dr Jones and Dr Graham formally declined consents because of the “sensitive” community around the proposed site, particularly the school, and the risk of objectionable odours.