Holcim fears plan change could affect cement plant

Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd has appealed to the Environment Court against a proposed plan change by the Waitaki District Council which the cement manufacturing company fears could affect plans for a new cement plant near Weston.

The council and the Otago Regional Council have already granted resource consents to build and operate the plant on the Weston-Ngapara Rd and operate limestone, sand and coal quarries in the area.

A decision on whether to build the $400 million plant, which would create 120 jobs once in full production, is expected early next year by the company's parent, Holcim Ltd in Switzerland.

The Waitaki council has introduced plan change 7 to its district plan, which includes significant natural features. One is the limestone escarpment and plateau next to the cement plant site.

Holcim has appealed against the area listed in the plan change as a natural significant feature, even though the council has already made significant changes.

Holcim wants an exemption included associated with the extraction of limestone and tuff for cement manufacturing.

It also wants the controls on any exemption to be reduced. The main reason it is asking the Environment Court for these and other changes is Holcim is worried it could have an effect on consents already granted for the cement plant development.

Holcim has also appealed a portion of plan change 8, which includes indigenous vegetation clearance.

It wants provisions covering indigenous vegetation clearance with the cement development area to be easier.

Change 8 has also prompted appeals by other organisations seeking stricter controls or easing controls. Those seeking lesser controls include the Benmore Irrigation Company and Federated Farmers of New Zealand, particularly in relation to irrigation in outstanding landscape areas, the rural scenic zone and Benmore irrigation scheme policy area.

In contrast, Forest and Bird wants tighter controls, particularly in regards to the rural scenic zone. It also wants indigenous clearance rules to apply to land freeholded through tenure review.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz


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