Farmers Ken and Pauline McIntyre have been granted resource consents to continue running their Morrinsville piggery for two years – subject to strict conditions relating to odour discharges – to give them time to relocate the business to a new site.
The decision follows consideration of the issue by an Environment Waikato hearings committee.
To address community concerns about past odour problems at the Hutchinson Rd site, the committee agreed to a range of odour mitigation measures volunteered by the McIntyres, including:
· hiring an independent contractor to dispose of all piggery waste offsite
· washing down pig pens daily
· covering all effluent sumps.
The committee agreed to continued operations, under the new conditions, after being assured that pig farming activities will cease at the site as soon as practicable, and pig numbers will be reduced to zero after two years.
In addition, if odour becomes a problem at the site, the McIntyres must pay for Environment Waikato to hire an independent piggery odour expert and must implement any mitigation measures the expert recommends.
The McIntyres applied to Environment Waikato last November for resource consents to continue running their 150-sow operation.
At the hearing they changed their proposal, applying for resource consents to keep operating for two years only, while they applied for the necessary resource consents to relocate the business to another site.
The two independent commissioners appointed by Environment Waikato considered the proposal at a hearing in Morrinsville from June 15-16.
After weighing up all the evidence, the commissioners concluded that granting a two-year closure consent was the quickest and most cost-effective way to progress the closure of the existing Hutchinson Rd piggery, and was in the best interests of the community.
In their hearing report, the commissioners said the McIntyres’ intention to cease piggery operations at the property was a "highly desirable and appropriate outcome given the sensitive nature of the immediate receiving environment", which included a school, bowling club, community hall and several houses.
A matter of contention had been how best to provide certainty of that outcome actually occurring, they said.
"We were mindful that if we declined the applications the applicant could appeal our decision and the resolution of that appeal could well take more than two years. In fact we note that Mr McIntyre was quite frank in advising us that he would appeal such a decision. Such an appeal process, should it arise, would induce further costs on all parties.
"On balance, we find that the option of a short-term consent as sought, with appropriate conditions, provides more certainty to the community that the piggery operation will cease in two years time (at the most) at this site."
The commissioners gave careful consideration to past odour problems at the site, but found the mitigation measures offered by the McIntyres would be appropriate to deal with potential offensive or objectionable odours from the piggery.
Therefore, they granted the McIntyres the resource consents needed to continue operating the piggery for two years, subject to a range of strict conditions that would "minimise as far as is practicable the potential for adverse odours to arise".
The consents will permit the McIntyres to discharge contaminants to air and take and use up to 35 cubic metres of groundwater a day.