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Published: 2003-09-10 00:00:00

Working closely with the chicken processing industry is providing better environmental outcomes for a growing industry, this week’s Environment Waikato Regulatory Committee meeting heard.

Inghams Enterprises is significantly increasing its production over the next seven years to supply chicken meat to KFC, and has sought guidance on what regulatory matters would need to be considered when assessing new broiler farm applications.

Resource Officer Hugh Keane said the company needed more breeder and broiler farms, and needed to increase its feed mill output and upgrade its Ngarua processing site. The expansion would require 1.5 million more chickens and 30 to 35 more broiler sheds, involving three district councils and the Regional Council.

More farms mean a potential for increased dust and odour, noise and chemical use in the areas where sheds were constructed. Environment Waikato had good links with the industry and the district councils where farms were established, regularly attending Rural Amenity Group meetings set up by Inghams.

The close liaison had resulted in the industry becoming much more aware of the potential environmental effects of broiler farms, especially the siting and management of this type of intensive indoor farming activity, he said.

The expansion had resulted in 15 new air discharge consent applications since January this year, including both expanding existing farms and new farms in the Region. Eleven were processed without the need for a formal hearing after successful consultation with neighbours, three were processed jointly and one was withdrawn after consultation with the applicant, Inghams and councils.

The good results reflected a range of industry improvements over the last five years, and a reflection of the strong links and good communication between the industry and regulatory authorities in the Region, he said.

Amongst the issues identified as important were separation from neighbours, screening and planting, location, good management plans and climatic conditions. The industry also involved councils early in the process, had early consultation with neighbours and incorporated landscaping and good management plans. Feed quality had also improved over the past few years.

Chairman Jim Howland said the situation had improved greatly from five years ago. It was good to see the industry had risen to the challenge and recognised the need to improve its operations.