An Environment Southland hearing committee has reserved its
decision on whether Southland meat processor South Pacific
Meats (SPM) can spread effluent on to a larger area of
farmland in northern Southland.
SPM, jointly owned by Affco New Zealand and Talleys Fisheries
Ltd, opened a plant at Awarua, south of Invercargill, in
Last year, it gained consent from Environment Southland to
spread sludge from the bottom of its wastewater treatment
pond on to 55.5ha of a 1033ha sheep farm near Garston.
The council imposed several conditions, including a minimum
three-year return period between successive applications to
the same piece of land, and 100m buffer zones between the
effluent-spreading area and neighbours or waterways.
SPM has now applied to vary the conditions. It wants to
reduce nitrogen loadings by spreading the same amount of
effluent over about 165ha, and is also seeking to have the
buffer zones reduced to 20m.
The council notified the application to three parties and
received one opposing submission from neighbour the Sim
Whiteley Farm Partnership.
A one-day hearing was held in Invercargill on Thursday.
In their submission, Maree Whiteley and Peter Sim said
spreading effluent over a wider area could expose their stock
to the risk of parasites and pathogens such as worm and egg
resistance, leptospira, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad
cow disease) and various forms of salmonella.
They were also concerned that if effluent ran on to their
land they would not be able to graze those paddocks because
of the presence of animal products in the effluent.
In her report to the hearing committee, council consents
officer Louise White recommended the consent-condition
changes as sought be granted.
When it granted consent last year, the council considered
SPM's application did not provide enough certainty 20m
buffers could mitigate potential adverse effects from
overland flow, but SPM was advised it could apply for a
change to buffer zone widths at a later date.
Buffer zones of 20m were consistent with the council's
regional effluent application plan and the regional water
plan and were considered by the council's soil scientist to
be acceptable, Ms White said.
If the consent alteration was granted, among new conditions
suggested were using a GPS tracking system to record where
the effluent was being deposited, and adding two more water
quality monitoring sites.