Council plunges further $205k into West Coast 1080 plant

By Laura Mills -
1080 is used for pest control. Photo / File
1080 is used for pest control. Photo / File

The West Coast Regional Council has quietly sunk a further $205,000 into the Rolleston 1080 poison bait plant - two years after it was picketed by a public angry at its secret $1.9 million investment in the business.

The council made the initial investment in May 2013, together with Pest Control Research Ltd, but did not disclose it until it was exposed by the Greymouth Star 17 months later.

It has been just as reluctant to admit to the top-up investment.

The Star got wind of an extra investment in April, but the council - and councillors - were tight-lipped.

An Official Information Act request was then put in motion, but the former chief executive Chris Ingle responded by asking for a $1500 deposit.

New chief executive Mike Meehan released the information this week.

In a statement, Mr Meehan said since council first invested $490,000 in the company, it had contributed a further $205,000, which had been invested in manufacturing equipment to "increase production capacity and efficiency".

Pest Control Research had generated a profit each year, and as a 49% partner the council had been attributed accumulated profits of $128,999 to March 2016, he said.

The council had also purchased the factory building for $1.34m, and leases it back to Pest Control for an annual rental of $94,000.

Mr Meehan said that was a 7% return on investment, and since the purchase, the latest valuation in March was $1.42m.

The council's total investment is now $2.105m.

Currently, New Zealand's only 1080 poison bait factory is the State-owned Animal Control Products, in Whanganui.

Pest Control Research is still not licensed to produce 1080 baits, and is therefore restricted to other forms of pest control.

On April 15, the Star asked councillors individually if the council had invested further in the venture. This is how they responded:

• Chairman Cr Andrew Robb said he could not divulge information on whether it had invested more.

• Deputy chairman Cr Peter Ewen and Cr Peter McDonnell referred questions to the chief executive and the chairman, Mr Robb.

• Cr Stuart Challenger said the council had invested more money in investigating alternative pest control, and "maybe a little bit" had gone to Rolleston.

• Cr Allan Birchfield said he did not know if more had been invested.

• Cr Terry Archer said: "Council doesn't have a 1080 plant, council has a pest control manufacturing factory. It can't produce 1080".

- Greymouth Star

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