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Oceania Dairy Ltd has welcomed the decision by Environment Canterbury commissioners to let it build a 7.5km pipeline to send treated wastewater into the sea near its Glenavy milk factory.
All six of Oceania’s resource consent applications have been granted, with a slew of conditions, despite strong objections from iwi, irrigators and other parties. There were 118 submissions against the proposal, six in support, and three neutral.
The ECan-appointed independent panel of Paul Rogers, Emma Christmas and Hoani Langsbury held a four-day hearing in Waimate in July and released its decision this month.
"We felt the hearing process was extensive, considered and inclusive for all parties and we now look forward to working with the community to plan for the projected investment on site," Oceania supply and environment manager Shane Lodge said.
"Our next steps will be to begin the process of planning for capital expenditure over the next five years to cater for expected demand growth from the international dairy market.
"This will include future upgrades to plant and equipment as well as an improved wastewater treatment facility. The ocean outfall will be used in conjunction with existing on-land treated wastewater distribution."
Te Runanga o Waihao chairwoman Jo McLean said the runanga was "very disappointed" by the decision. It and Te Runanga o Arowhenua were reviewing the commissioners’ report to see whether they would appeal against the consents.
In granting the coastal marine and land use consents, the commissioners said "the evidence before us was that the effects of the discharge on the marine environment [and the effects of the installation and occupation of the pipeline on both terrestrial and marine environments] will be minor".
Ngai Tahu submitted it was deeply opposed to the plan, calling it "culturally abhorrent".
"We find that the fears and concerns of effects on water quality, ecological communities, human health, taonga species, are unfounded," the panel said in its decision
Oceania has 10 years to carry out the pipeline earthworks, which must be no deeper than 5m below the ground. It must liaise with the Morven-Glenavy-Ikawai Irrigation Company to protect its infrastructure.
A lizard management plan must be prepared by a qualified expert in consultation with Te Runanga o Waihao and Te Runanga o Arowhenua to protect or relocate indigenous species and an ornithologist must check the gully at the seaward end of Archibalds Rd for penguins. If any are present, management measures must be taken.
After construction, all disturbed areas are to be stabilised and/or revegetated and waste material removed. The beach’s natural profile is also to be reinstated as soon as practicable.
The company must discharge wastewater to land under previous consents when it can.
The ocean outfall is only to be used where that is not practicable — according to soil saturation levels and temperature, when rain is forecast, and when certain farming activities are taking place.