Waste plant possible for Westland

  • The Press
  • 27 Jul 2019
  • Joanne Carroll joanne.carroll@stuff.co.nz

About 1000 tonnes of rubbish may be transported to the West Coast every day, if a revised proposal for a $260 million waste-to-energy plant in Hokitika wins support.

The Renew Energy plant was initially mooted for the Buller district, but abandoned after it was revealed Buller mayor Garry Howard had signed an agreement with a Chinese investor without telling the public or district councillors. The company also faced opposition from Buller residents when it sought to stockpile rubbish in Reefton.

New plans for a plant to be built in Hokitika by 2022 were put to a meeting of about 500 Westland residents.

It would burn 1000 tonnes of rubbish every day to create 28 mega watts of power, enough to make Grey and Westland self-sufficient in energy, and 410,000mgw of thermal energy, which could power new industries to the Coast including horticulture, and salmon and prawn farms.

Bottom ash would be turned into concrete, which could be used to solve the region’s erosion issues. The rubbish would be carted to the Coast on rail wagons that were travelling to the region empty to collect coal and milk powder every day.

The company’s previous partner, China Tianying Inc (CNTY), would no longer be used, Renew Energy independent director Kevin Stratful said. Discussions were under way with a new European partner.

Stratful told Thursday’s meeting the Hokitika plant would not use Chinese technology and would not need to stockpile rubbish.

He played a lengthy video about a waste-to-energy plant on the Spanish island of Mallorca, which has millions of tourists each year. There were howls of laughter when he described the plant as a new tourist attraction for Westland.

Renew Energy’s preferred site is about 4.4 kilometres outside of Hokitika near Adair Rd.

It would bring waste in by rail and road from across the South Island, mostly construction and demolition waste. Plastic wrapping could be six per cent of what was burned, the meeting was told.

Christchurch businessman Mike Gorman, who owns transfer stations in Sockburn, Woolston and one under construction in Belfast, has the contract to bale the waste for Renew Energy. He said it would not leach, did not smell, was not hazardous and could safely be stored and transported.

Stratful expected the company to apply for resource consent in mid

2020 and commission the plant in

2022. It would create up to 60 direct jobs and 150 more in construction. He said it would increase Westland’s GDP by up to $80m.

‘‘You guys in Buller are sore about losing the plant,’’ Stratful replied to a man asking how much carbon the plant would emit.

Tracie Piercy asked where exactly the plant would go, as she was potentially a neighbour and was worried it would ‘‘destroy’’ property values in Westland.

Stratful ignored her question and Piercy left the meeting in frustration.

Rachael Roberts, a Hokitika cafe owner, said if the plant went near Adair Rd there would need to be 1000 tonnes of rubbish carted by an estimated 80 truck movements over the Hokitika River bridge every day.

‘‘We have one route through Hokitika. What impact do you think that’s going to have on tourism and those people who come here for our clean green image?’’

Stratful said the company was in discussion with KiwiRail, and had the backing of Westland Milk Products.

Westland resident Flow Ir In questioned the financial viability of building the plant on the West Coast.

Residents were being asked to ‘‘fundamentally change the nature of Hokitika’’, she said.

‘‘This plant will create 100 tonnes a day of fly ash hazardous waste that has to be mixed with cement and then buried forever. A million tonnes of hazardous waste that it will produce in its lifetime will be with us forever. I’m just wondering do you think we are stupid?’’

The crowd erupted in applause.