Feilding (Manawatū)

Updated 23 February 2023 (scroll down to the end for the most recent update). Keep up to date with the latest with the Feilding Against Incineration Facebook page

Bioplant Energy is an Australian company seeking to develop its first project in Australia or New Zealand. It has proposals and plans for three communities: Feilding (Manawatū), Gisborne (Tairawhiti), and Hokitikia. The Manawatū District Council is “in partnership” with the company, and plans are well advanced for a project in the Feilding area. The company touts pyrolysis as a Green Solution (and the missing piece to The Circular Economy).  It proposes to produce char and diesel from biomass and ‘inert’ ash (10%) of weight from mixed residual waste and municipal solid waste.  The syngas it produces self-maintains the process. These are the consultants driving the project. Any kind of Mixed Solid Waste pyrolysis produces heavy contaminated output, much more than a standard Waste-to-Energy. There is currently no facility in Europe which processes Mixed Solid Waste like that proposed for Manawatū. The last one was Burgau plant which is described in the link. It was shut down in 2015.

This application was assessed by PDP (a Christchurch-based engineering firm), and a report on it has been issued. Along with that, the same assessors have responded to Dr Trisia Farrelly’s letter to Horizons raising concerns about the proposal. The technical report recommends granting consent subject to a number of conditions.

The Zero Waste Network, Feilding Against Incineration and Aorangi Marae (Mana Whenua) have written to Environment Minister David Parker asking him to call in this application under Section 142 of the Resource Management Act so that his office would make a determination. You can read our letter (22 December 2021) and follow up request (31 January 2022) both of which detail our concerns about the proposal. We sent a follow up to our follow up (21 April 2022), again requesting the Minister’s intervention. The Minister did finally reply refusing our request to call in the application on the basis that it has been publicly notified.

On 10 June, Horizons Regional Council filed their Section 42 reports (required under the RMA). The Manawatū Standard reported that the Council’s consent “Expert cannot recommend Feilding waste-to-energy plant without more information” noting in particular the lack of clarity about cultural impacts.


A resource consent hearing was held over three days (19-21 July) in Feilding. The company was seeking consent for discharge-to-air. The first day of the hearing was taken up by the company, their lawyer and engineers who appeared to be making up the proposal on the spot and changing critical components of the proposal as they gave their evidence. In particular, the whole process of pyrolysis was abandoned in favour of what was more like steam gasification (a process that happens at a much higher temperature with different emissions implications), and that the company had been proposing one single discharge stack of 21 metres, but had submitted data about emissions from modelling of two 15 metre stacks. Expert evidence given by Dr Andrew Rollinson (for the Zero Waste Network) and Lou Wickham (Emission Impossible for the District Health Board) were damning of the proposal. Dr Rollinson said that critical emissions were not modelled – these included things like Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which may cause cancer and may affect the eyes, kidneys, and liver. After three days of hearings, the engineer who had been contracted by Horizons Regional Council to assess the application, and who had originally given it a pass, said he had to reconsider his endorsement given what he had learned.

Aside from the experts, the standout submissions came from Ngāti Kauwhata who unequivocally rejected this project. They noted that their early approval of the project was the result of their “vulnerability being weaponised” against them during Covid and that “consultation does not mean agreement”. They spoke of the idea of “Hā-para” essentially the dirtying or contamination of the breath of life, the “hā”. They said in Te Ao Māori, no level of contamination of the air was in accordance with their tikanga. Meihana Durie from Aorangi Marae noted that for more than 100 years, their air quality had been being polluted without their agreement with no consents ever sought for the aerodrome or rail hub.

On the first day of the hearing, the Commissioners asked the company for a long list of additional information and data that they should submit by the end of that week. By the third day of the hearing, it was clear that there were so many missing pieces of this application, that the company was never going to be able to do that. So the Commissioners asked the company to come up with a timeline for getting them the data. They have now said that they will come back with more evidence on 7 September. After that the community and our experts may again have a say, although the Commissioners are not proposing to have any more hearings. Once all of that is finished and the hearing is officially “closed”, then the Commissioners will have 15 working days to issue their judgement.

You can read some of the evidence and oral submissions from the hearing on the Horizons Regional Council page (scroll down to the end for the “Tabled Documents”).

Some media stories from the week of hearings include Pyrolysis expert slams Feilding waste-to-energy plant plan and Community groups converge in Manawatū to protest against waste-to-energy plant as well as Greens, National weigh in on waste-to-energy plant proposals

Further investigation into Bioplant’s money, investors and the emissions testing results has been covered in two articles by the NBR: Following the Money and Concerns Over Testing Evidence for Bioplant Pyrolysis Proposal

Hearing Update as of 17 September 2022

The resource consent decision has again been delayed.. At the time of the original hearings in July, the Resource Consent Commissioners asked for a whole lot more info from the company because the company’s application was not only inadequate, but downright contradictory in key areas. Bioplant was given until 16 September to submit more evidence, but at the last minute asked for another extension – this time until the end of the year. We haven’t heard whether the Commissioners are going to agree to this, or hopefully, instead decide to call time on the company’s bullish*t and refuse to grant consent.

Hearing Update as of 17 October 2022

At the beginning of October, we joined with Ngāti Kauwhata and Feilding Against Incineration to oppose a time extension for the company to submit documents for the consent process. Unsurprisingly Bioplant said they should have the extra time and that it was legal.

Bioplant submitted a raft of new evidence to the Resource Consent Commissioners. We don’t yet have a timeline for submissions on this. You can read the “supplementary” evidence of Dr Ibrahim, Dr Koh, Dr Fransesca Kelly and Keith Frenz on the Horizons Regional Council page.

Hearing Update as of 29 November 2022

Today, we have made a further submission on Bioplant’s new “evidence” and we have also submitted Dr Andrew Rollinson’s further expert evidence. In his submission he notes, “It uses projected data with unsupported reference to a single plant in South Korea which had its licence revoked in 2018 and was described as an ‘environmental disaster’ and a ‘polluting abomination’. For Bioplant Feilding, it is impossible to know from the modelling what level of toxins will be released to air, and what the gaseous flow volumes will be, because the values are merely hopeful minima.” 

This round of submissions is due 30 November. In January, we expect Bioplant to submit more information pertaining to a Cultural Impact Assessment. Then yet another round of submissions may be necessary. We have already indicated that, “no consent should be granted on land that was stolen, and that remains the subject of an outstanding Treaty claim, without the enthusiastic and overwhelming support of Mana Whenua. This proposal does not have that.”

We are encouraging the Commissioners to reject this proposal now so that the community does not have to continuing wasting its time with this fraudulent, polluting and fanciful proposal. Stay tuned!

Update 8 December 2022

Stuff is reporting that, “Pyrolysis plant’s evidence all hot air to experts,” and notes “One expert says the application to run a waste-to-energy plant is among the worst he has ever seen.”

Update 23 February 2023

Horizons Regional Council has now issued its Sec 42A independent air, water and land reports on the proposal, and its Sec 42A consents officer’s planning report. All four experts recommended that consent be declined. This is a fantastic outcome. We now await the decision of the Commissioners. They could decide to re-convene the hearing, but that seems unlikely as there isn’t much more to discuss. Our fingers are crossed that the Commissioners follow all of the great advice they have received from the community and experts and reject this proposal.

Update 4 May 2023

Resource Consent Commissioners issued a minute on Friday, March 10 indicating three further days of hearings would be held in July 2023 in Feilding. The ZWN issued a media statement about this surprise decision here.

Update 14 June 2023 – Bioplant loses, community & climate win!

On 8 June 2023, Bioplant withdrew its application for resource consent. Their plans are dead in the water. We are thrilled for the community and the climate. While the company has said it will be back, and that it was only due to ‘technicalities’ we know the reality of their application. Read the ZWN media statement here.