Environment Waikato and Matamata-Piako District Council have given approval that allows for the on-going operation and progressive expansion NZ Mushrooms’ plant in Taukoro Road in Morrinsville – but with strict conditions relating to the monitoring of odour, noise and traffic.
NZ Mushrooms had applied to the Matamata Piako District Council for consents to continue with its operations at Taukoro Road, with a progressive expansion of compost production capacity and additional further buildings and office. Consents were also sought from Environment Waikato to allow for the discharge of contaminants to air, and to allow for the taking of ground water.
Thirty-four submissions were lodged regarding the application – and the main issues raised by the submitters were odour, noise, vibration, health, pollution of waterways, and traffic.
The Waikato Regional Council (Environment Waikato)’s Hearings Committee participated in a joint hearing with Matamata-Piako District Council Hearings Commission in August.
In hearing the submissions, the Regional Council’s Hearings Committee noted that the neighbours did not want the composting operation at Taukoro Road. However, the Committee noted that the matters to be dealt with related to the emission of odour and its effects, rather than the issue of whether or not the submitters wanted the operation in their “backyard”.
The Committee noted that there was a long history of odour complaints and there had been non-compliance. The Committee noted that odour was often transitory and difficult to measure objectively, and yet upsetting to live with as the submitters had been obliged to do. The Committee believed that the complaints of the neighbours cannot be summarily dismissed as being overly sensitive as the applicant suggested. The odour effects have undoubtedly been caused by the discharger over an extended period of time.
After hearing from two air quality experts, the Committee found that the proposed odour mitigation measures are likely to avoid odour events beyond the boundary of the site that cause an objectionable effect. However one of the air quality experts expressed a belief that while the proposed measures are likely to avoid the potential for odour discharge, there still remained some uncertainty about whether this could be achieved.
Therefore, because of previous non-compliance and concerns about the ability of the proposed operator to provide certainty of no off-site effects, the Hearings Committee imposed strict monitoring and reporting conditions. In addition it decided to only issue a short term consent of five years for the air discharge consent, when the applicant had sought 10 years, and it retained the ability to frequently review the consent conditions, if required.
The Matamata-Piako District Council Hearings Commission considered that with the imposition of appropriate conditions the effects of the continued operation and a progressive expansion for the mushroom plant will be no more than minor.