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Environment Minister asked to ‘call in’ waste to energy application – WRC

Waikato Regional Council is asking the Environment Minister to “call in” a waste to energy plant consent application to enable greenhouse gas emissions to be considered.

Global Contracting Solutions Limited wants to build the plant in Racecourse Road, Te Awamutu. The company wants to incinerate 150,000 tonnes of rubbish annually, burning the rubbish to generate steam to turn into electric power. To fuel the plant, rubbish would be trucked in from outside the district.

Consent applications have been received by the regional council for discharges to air and water, and Waipā District Council to construct and operate the plant.

In total, more than 1700 submissions have recently been received by the councils, with the vast majority opposing the plant.

Acting Regional Consents Manager Hugh Keane acknowledged there had been very strong community interest in the proposal, with 575 submitters indicating they want to be heard.

“The submissions indicate a large amount of public concern relating to technology, processes or methods that submitters believe are new to Aotearoa New Zealand and may affect the environment.”

Mr Keane said the regional council considers the proposal reaches the threshold to be considered of national significance in accordance with various factors listed in Section 142(3) of the Resource Management Act.

“Our consents staff have assessed the application and identified there is potential for greenhouse gas emissions and effects on climate change.”

The factors of particular relevance are whether the proposal:

  • affects or is likely to affect or is relevant to New Zealand’s international obligations to the global environment
  • results or is likely to result in or contribute to significant or irreversible changes to the environment, including the global environment.

“But the application was lodged prior to Resource Management Act amendments made in November 2022 which allow the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions and the effects on climate change of activities,” Mr Keane said. “This means the regional council cannot consider the effects of greenhouse gas on climate change. But if the application is called in by Minister Penny Simmonds, we understand a Board of Inquiry or Environment Court can take this into account.”

The letter to the Environment Minister has been sent today.

Global Contracting Solutions Limited have been notified.

“Given a joint hearing was being planned, we have liaised directly with Waipā District Council on this issue. We understand a decision on requesting a call in will be made by Waipa’s elected members at their February 2024 council meeting,” Mr Keane said.

 

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