News that Fonterra has been given the go-ahead for its $250 million Pahiatua plant extension is great for the district, Tararua District mayor Roly Ellis says.
Three independent commissioners have approved the proposed expansion of Fonterra's Mangamutu factory and the expansion, costing up to $250 million, is expected to bring with it 45 full-time jobs and millions in wages to the district's economy.
"It's very good news, now let's hope the Fonterra board make the decision to go ahead," Mr Ellis said.
"This is really good news for Pahiatua and with hundreds of people likely to be employed during the building of the new plant, there will be knock-on effects for our region too."
Fonterra plans to install a new dryer at its Pahiatua plant, which would produce up to 85,000 metric tonnes of milk powder and site operations manager Bill Boakes said the company is hoping to achieve the most efficient plant in New Zealand.
One of the benefits of the new plant is the potential to re-use condensate from milk through the drying process and the project also includes a wastewater treatment plant and landscaping to help control noise.
With the Pahiatua expansion based on Fonterra's South Island Darfield factory, Mr Ellis said there's plenty of potential for sub-contractors in the region.
"At Dalefield they employed 60 electricians alone. This can only be good for us and I'd expect motel accommodation in Pahiatua to be in demand when construction begins," he said. "In the long term I'd like to think we would see some of the technology staff employed at the new plant taking up residence in the Tararua as well."
Shirley Hull, a neighbour of the Pahiatua factory, told the Dannevirke News she was "absolutely rapt," the plant expansion has been given the go-ahead.
"While it's untimely the decision has come out at the same time as news of the milk powder scare, that can't diminish what is going to happen here in Pahiatua," she said.
"The world is going to need really good milk powder and baby formula."
Mrs Hull said she also appreciates Fonterra's drive to make the new plant less intrusive than the existing plant.
The existing plant can process 1.4 million litres of milk daily but, with the expansion, the figure will treble.