Answers sought about proposed plant

"It's like a prison, no-one wants that in their backyard."

Addressing the crowd at a Why Waste Waimate public meeting on Thursday night, Glenavy School board of trustees chairman Adam Rivett said the board was unanimous in its opposition to the $350million waste-to-energy plant being proposed about 2.5km north of the town.

Last month, South Island Resource Recovery Ltd (SIRRL) announced it had bought 15ha of land from Murphy Farms Ltd at the corner of Carrolls and Morven Glenavy Rds, for the proposed plant that generates energy from waste.

SIRRL is a joint venture between New Zealand’s Renew Energy Ltd, China Tianying Incorporated and Spanish company Urbaser. Its proposed plant, known as Project Kea, could convert 365,000 tonnes of waste into energy each year, by burning rubbish to create steam which would then be fed through a turbine to produce electricity.

SIRRL says it could produce 240GWh, more than four times Waimate’s annual power use, and Alpine Energy would use its network to distribute this power into the local community.

Mr Rivett told the 60-strong crowd at the Glenavy Hall he and school principal Kate Mansfield had met SIRRL director Paul Taylor following the company’s most recent announcement.

It was a "cordial" meeting, and an opportunity for Mr Taylor to get an idea of the community’s feelings towards the proposal, and for the school to ask questions, Mr Rivett said.

Subsequently, he said the board did not believe the plant was in the best interests of the pupils or the wider community.

Hook Bush Lavender owner Russell Rofe said information so far provided by SIRRL was "full of holes", especially around safety and pollution from the combustion process.

"It’s the safety of our environment, the safety of our country — and I haven’t seen anything in the application material so far that gives any guarantees whatsoever," he said.

Why Waste Waimate committee member Robert Ireland said a lot of questions to SIRRL remained unanswered.

"If they can’t give them to us, there’s one of two reasons — they don’t want to because it looks bad for them, or they haven’t got the answers. If they haven’t got the answers — that’s even scarier."

The Otago Daily Times put a series of questions to SIRRL, many of which were raised at Thursday night’s meeting.

A statement from Mr Taylor said

SIRRL had engaged a "range of experts" to prepare a human health assessment and reports on air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, traffic, noise, landscape and visual impact, stormwater and domestic wastewater discharge. These reports would form part of the company’s resource consent application, and would become publicly available.

The final land sale is subject to SIRRL being granted a resource consent.

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