Members of the Luggate Community Association, including
(from left) Sue Orbell, president Geoff Taylor and Judy
Thompson, have relayed to the Queenstown Lakes District
Council their community's opposition to a proposal for a
sludge drying plant and biosolid dispersal on land near the
town. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Luggate residents have sent a clear message to the
Queenstown Lakes District Council that a sludge drying plant
and the fertiliser it produces are not welcome in their
Results of a survey show the majority of the community do not
support hosting a new plant on Luggate's outskirts to dry
Wanaka sludge before spreading it on neighbouring farms, as
proposed by the council in partnership with Fulton Hogan.
Known as Project Groundswell, the proposal was made public in
September and a drop-in session was held to provide more
information to the community.
An October open day at the proposed plant site on the
Luggate-Tarras highway and a public meeting in the Luggate
Hall in November did little to allay residents' concerns
about how the plant and the application of biosolids to land
nearby would affect the town.
During late December and early January, a Project Groundswell
survey was hand-delivered to residents in Luggate and
surrounding areas by Luggate Community Association members.
A report summarising the survey results, titled ''Luggate
Community Response to Project Groundswell Proposal'', was
sent to the district council and Fulton Hogan yesterday, and
provided to the Otago Daily Times.
It shows just 7% of the 218 respondents are in favour of both
the drying plant and farm land disposal, while 33% are in
favour of the drying plant without land disposal. Fifty-three
percent disagree with the proposal in full.
''In view of the lack of support for the proposals indicated
by the survey, and the strong opposition expressed at public
meetings and in the press, we urge the council to reconsider
the scheme,'' Graham Halliday and Judy Thompson wrote in the
report on behalf of the community association.
The community considered it better to build a drying plant
next to Wanaka's Project Pure treatment plant at the airport
to avoid the ongoing cost to ratepayers of transporting
sludge on a 12km round trip to Luggate.
''We recommend the council investigate this option, which
appears to make economic, engineering and environmental
sense,'' the report stated.
Spreading the dried sludge on food-producing land was
''unacceptable'' to Luggate residents, as it had been to
other New Zealand communities that had been consulted.
Disposal on forestry land - an option favoured by
environmental microbiologist Dr Jacqui Horswell at December's
public meeting - was worthy of further investigation.
Fulton Hogan Central Otago regional manager Alan Peacock said
the company was ''on the verge'' of lodging its consent
application with the Otago Regional Council to build and
operate the drying facility.
It would be a minimum of two years before any biosolids would
be produced from the plant, ''so there's plenty of time there
to investigate options of land disposal''.
Fulton Hogan had taken on board community views and addressed
those as best it could in its application.
''So effectively now it's just a case of following the
process, which is what the resource management act is all
''We'll put the application in and people will be given their
opportunity to voice their concerns or otherwise.
''At the end of the day we're responding to a tender put out
by the Queenstown Lakes District Council.''
District council communications adviser Michele Poole said
53% disagreement with both the drying facility and dispersal
on farmland indicated there was ''roughly 50:50 support and
opposition for the proposal'' within the community, similar
to feedback received last year.
Community association president Geoff Taylor said while he
personally was ''not frightened'' by the proposal, the
results of the survey spoke for themselves.
''The community pretty well identified that they don't
particularly want it.''
The association would formally lodge an objection to Fulton
Hogan's consent application.
''But whether we can follow it through the court processes, I
think it will be too expensive for us,'' Mr Taylor said.