Plant’s consent renewal request draws opposition

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The Mataura River behind Alliance Group’s Mataura plant.

ALLIANCE Group’s application to renew a series of consents, including its permit to release treated wastewater from its Mataura processing plant into the Mataura River, has drawn some opposition.

Alliance Group last year applied to renew three Environment Southland consents which expired in December, allowing it to take and use water for cooling and processing purposes, and to discharge cooling water and wastewater into river.

It also asked for a 35-year consent term for all replacement consents and consent to use an existing weir for the damming and diversion of water for the same period.

The weir provides the plant with about 25% of its electricity needs, before the water is returned to the river, a report to council staff states.

A hearing for the applications is set down for three days in December.

The report details 208 submissions on the application, including four in opposition.

The Department of Conservation (Doc), Southland Fish and Game, Hokonui Runanga-Aukaha and Te Runanga O Ngai Tahu oppose the application.

The remaining submissions support including one from Adam Smith, which cites the social and economic importance of the plant, as well as Alliance’s plans to invest in treatment process upgrades to improve the quality of the discharge to the river, and a reduction in water use.

However, that did not satisfy Doc, which states in its submission the application fails to ensure adverse affects are avoided, remedied or mitigated.

It suggests the 35-year consent period was too long.

The council’s report was compiled by planning consultant Ian Mayhew, who notes, while there was significant support for renewal, the submissions in opposition focus on effects on water quality and ecology, consent length, timing of proposed improvements and cultural implications.

These factors were taken into account in the draft conditions of consent, he says in the report.

He recommends issuing the take and discharge permits, with conditions, for a period of 10 years.

He also recommends no change to present weir damming and diversion consents.

An updated draft set of conditions will be provided to the hearing, his report states.

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