Reefton celebrates after waste plan dumped

A big crowd turned out at the Reefton Community Hall earlier this month to protest against...
A big crowd turned out at the Reefton Community Hall earlier this month to protest against storing baled waste. Photo: John Bougen

Reefton residents who banded together to battle Renew Energy plans to stockpile baled waste from around the South Island in their town, appear to have won the day.

Graeme Neylon. Photo: Greymouth Star
Graeme Neylon. Photo: Greymouth Star

Buller Deputy Mayor Graeme Neylon said yesterday he had been advised by the Buller District Council that the application to store waste for possible burning in the proposed Westport waste to energy plan had been withdrawn.

The news caught everyone by surprise - and made Reefton's day.

Renew Energy Ltd had applied for resource consent for a 'temporary' storage site on a 2ha former Solid Energy site on the terrace behind the Reefton railway yard.

It had proposed railing 240 bales of waste into Reefton every day, five days a week, stacked up to 12.5m high - or five storeys.

If the Westport waste to energy plant failed to proceed, the 66,000 tonnes a year of baled rubbish could have been dumped in landfills at Greymouth or Hokitika.

Reefton residents rallied against the proposal. The business group Reefton Inc employed a queen's counsel, 253 people attended a protest meeting a few weeks ago, and 500 signed a petition.

Spokesman John Bougen said yesterday they had been saved from the "clutches of a monstrous dump".

Now the QC that Reefton Inc had engaged would carry out one final act, Mr Bougen said, by writing to the Ministry for the Environment to request a moratorium on all waste to energy plants and associated dumps, baling and storage.

This moratorium should remain "until it can be agreed at a national level by central government".

Mr Neylon said today it was not immediately clear why Renew Energy had withdrawn the application.

Reefton residents were concerned the waste plant at nearby Westport may not proceed, leaving a stockpile of rubbish.

Information on what Renew had proposed for a bond was blacked out in documents released by the Buller District Council.

The application implied the rubbish would be railed in from the Canterbury company ERP Group.

- By Laura Mills

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