Ravensdown drops change plans

The Ravensdown fertiliser works at Ravensbourne. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Ravensdown fertiliser works at Ravensbourne. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Ravensdown has abandoned a push to adjust monitoring rules relating to its Ravensbourne fertiliser plant, following community pressure.

Works manager Tony Gray said the company had wanted to defer work connected to the next five-yearly technological review but would now "revert to the original process".

The U-turn came on the eve of today’s deadline for affected parties to make their submissions to the Otago Regional Council about the company’s application to adjust resource consent conditions.

Ravensdown had argued the technological review of guidelines, monitoring and control for discharges to air and water was unnecessary duplication, because much of the same ground would be covered when the company prepared to apply to renew resource consents at the Dunedin works from 2025.

The regional council confirmed last night it had been advised the company intended to withdraw the application to tweak its existing consents.

Although pleased about Ravensdown’s backdown, critics said consultation with the wider community had been inadequate.

"No information about this resource consent variation was relayed to the people who live in close proximity to the fertiliser works," Ravensbourne Community Group member Antje Lubcke said.

The group had distributed hundreds of leaflets in Ravensbourne and Maia about the issue.

Students for Environmental Action member Grace Cowley said the company had been keen to strip back its monitoring requirements.

In a joint submission with Sofija Cvitanovich, she argued cancelling the technology review would have allowed the company to have "a decade without relevant technology data".

The two University of Otago students argued this would have created health and accountability risks. Rigorous reporting was necessary, they said.

Mr Gray said the company’s previous five-yearly reviews had been useful but costly.

The company had taken "soundings from the community" that indicated plenty of support for deferring some work and incorporating this in the drive to renew consents from 2025.

Work on the 2025 consent renewal is to start this year.

"However, after consideration and consultation, the decision has been made to revert to the original process and not seek any consent variation," Mr Gray said.

"This is an example of our routine, proactive and open stakeholder engagement process being effective."

West Harbour Community Board member Duncan Eddy did not quite agree.

"It would be easier for everyone in future if Ravensdown endeavoured to consult more widely," Mr Eddy said.

Dr Lubcke said the company’s community liaison group was not necessarily reflective of the wider Ravensbourne community.

There had been a steady stream of support for opposing the changes Ravensdown had wanted, she said.

Mr Gray said Ravensdown had an excellent record of regulatory compliance.

"We’ve always had an open and constructive relationship with the community and, when issues arise, we attempt to resolve them in an honest and constructive manner," he said.

"We believe the majority of the community is supportive of our contribution to the local economy and community.

"We’re always open to dialogue about any concerns any stakeholder should have."

Dr Lubcke said the community could be supportive of the company’s contribution to the economy while also trying to hold it to account.

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

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