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Published: 2003-04-15 00:00:00

Environment Waikato and Waipa District Council have granted an application from an abattoir to continue discharging paunch waste and disposing of solids on a Higgins Rd farm.

Greenlea Premier Meats Ltd had applied to the councils to dispose of the semi-digested grass or feed material from beef stomachs and the paunch itself into shallow trenches covered with soil. The application attracted seven submissions to Waipa District Council and nine to Environment Waikato.

The plant produces up to 595 tonnes of wet weight paunch waste a year and has been disposing of the waste on the farm for about eight years. A resource consent was initially not required, but following odour problems in 1999 and further development of the Proposed Regional Plan the company was advised that a consent was needed.

The Chief Executive of the company said the granting of the consent was essential for the company as he considered alternatives were uneconomical with no environmental benefit. It was not possible to significantly reduce the volume of paunch waste by changing stock handling practices.

The disposal would give a peak annual nitrogen load of about 300 kg per hectare with only minor environmental effects.

A neighbour described historical problems with the disposal, particularly flies, rats and smells. He considered that the proposed trenching system would overcome these but raised concerns about weeds, ponding and other land uses on the farm.

Granting the consent, the Hearing Committee said the paunch waste could be used beneficially as a fertiliser replacement or soil conditioner provided adverse effects such as flies, odours and nitrogen leachate were controlled.

There was a balance between the need to adequately cover the waste, control flies and odour and minimise the burial depth to prevent nitrogen leaching to groundwater. The Committee agreed with submitters’ concerns about potential weed infestation in the burial area if stock were excluded.

A buffer larger than 25 metres was not warranted as flies and odours would be effectively controlled by consent conditions. The Environment Waikato consent was granted for seven years, with an agreement that the waste volume would not increase.