Briquetting plant changes approved

An application for alterations to the layout of Solid Energy's briquetting plant near Mataura has been approved by commissioners appointed by the Gore District Council.

In their written decision released this week commissioners David Pullar and David Whitney signed off on changes to the layout of the site, the location of the entrance and exit, along with variations to the earth bund and fencing.

Solid Energy said in its application that changes to the bund and fencing, around the edges of the site in Craig Rd, were possible because noise-reduction measures on plant machinery had resulted in less reliance on the bund to reduce noise from the site.

The bund specification has been reduced in both height and base-width but would be wider at the top, while the original solid wooden fence would be replaced by a 2m-high shade-cloth fence topped with wire.

Changes to the site layout involve shifting the plant's control room from the west of the drier to the east and the inclusion in the plans of the boiler's feed conveyor, which had been omitted from the original plan.

In their decision, commissioners found the changes requested by Solid Energy did not alter either the actual or potential effects of the activity that had been granted consent last June.

They determined that the changes to the entrance and exit would have a positive effect on traffic flow and the environment.

Approval was subject to two new conditions requiring the fence and shade cloth installed on the bund to be kept in a tidy condition, and allowing the council to serve notice on Solid Energy to deal with any "adverse effects" on the environment resulting from the appearance and state of the fence.

One condition was also amended to remove any mention of a 10,000-litre diesel tank as approval for the tank is to be the subject of a separate application for resource consent.

Solid Energy's briquetting plant is under construction on industrial-zoned land, near State Highway 1, just south of Mataura.

It will process about 148,000 tonnes of low-grade lignite coal from a nearby mine annually, turning it into 90,000 tonnes of higher-quality briquettes suitable as fuel for households and industries. A total of 15,000 tonnes of lignite will be required annually to fire the plant's on-site boiler.

The coal will be transported to the plant from the New Vale mine, near Waimumu.

The briquette plant is the first of three projects planned for lignite from the Waimumu, Croydon and Mataura areas.

helena.dereus@odt.co.nz