Mataura residents are expressing concern about possible noise
levels from Solid Energy's proposed briquette plant near the
town, but expect it will be built anyway.
The $15 million plant would process 148,000 tonnes of lignite
annually from the New Vale mine, about 20km away, into 90,000
tonnes of briquettes. It would be 2km south of Mataura in
Craig Rd, near State Highway 1 and Dongwha's medium-density
The Gore District Council approved the proposed pilot plant
on Wednesday but the project still needs water and
air-quality consent from Environment Southland.
Mataura farmer Daniel Johnstone told the Otago Daily Times
yesterday an invitation-only meeting with Solid Energy staff
and neighbours of the proposed plant and residents of
Croydon, near the New Vale mine, two weeks ago helped local
people understand what was going on.
"I'm not a huge coal fan, but this plan isn't too bad because
they're using coal from an existing mine. The meeting two
weeks ago explained things a bit better - according to their
data we'll be far enough away that we won't be affected by
the noise. In saying that, many of us feel we've been left
out of the loop."
Glencoe Highway resident Des Pringle, who grows peonies
commercially, said he was amazed by the volume of "disquiet"
at the residents' meeting with Solid Energy.
"Noise and dust pollution were two of the bigger issues and
that affects me as well, because dust ruins flowers."
Mr Pringle expected the project would go ahead but thought
the council and Solid Energy could have "gone about it a bit
Lower Mataura Valley Landcare Group chairman Mike Dumbar said
he had battled with the council for years over noise from the
nearby Dongwha plant and wanted the council to re-examine
noise levels in the area.
"The Gore District Council is not looking after us - they
haven't looked into the noise issues that are already present
in the valley."
Mr Dumbar has a 100ha sheep farm on Craig Rd.
He said the council's decision to make the application
non-notifiable made him feel disenfranchised.
"No, I don't think it's a very bright idea, but it [the
plant] will probably go ahead anyway - it's opening the gate
to what they [Solid Energy] want to do in the future."
Environmental groups, including Greenpeace New Zealand, Coal
Action Network Aotearoa, and Dunedin's Southern Anti Coal
Action, have protested the proposal, stating New Zealand
should move away from a reliance on coal and other fossil
fuels because it could be contributing to global warming.