It looks increasingly likely that Whanganui's new wastewater treatment plant will proceed without the waste - or the funding - of its biggest user.
The Talley group of companies - Affco Imlay, Land Meats and Open Country, which produce in excess of 60 per cent of the treatment plant load - are actively pursuing exiting the council scheme and building their own plant.
That is likely to see a revision of the design of the new plant, presently costed at around $42 million, and a less expensive option built at the Airport Road facility. However, while the cost of the new plant would reduce, it would also have to do without the trade waste fees paid by the Talley companies which one projection had at $4.5 million per year.
Yesterday councillor Rob Vinsen, who is on the wastewater advisory committee, said that the Talley companies had withdrawn from the scheme. That may well have been premature, but council chief executive Kym Fell will meet with industry representatives in Wellington today to discuss their go-it-alone plan.
Yesterday, mayor Annette Main confirmed the companies had "signalled their desire to treat their own waste" and she said negotiations were continuing.
"The issues to be agreed upon are complex and require negotiation," she said.
"We have always known that without these industries there is the opportunity to reduce the capital and operating costs of a wastewater plant, but until these industries make an irrevocable decision to build their own plant to treat their waste, we will not know what a revised plant will cost."
Back in June, Affco Imlay and another of the "wet" industries, Tasman Tanning, wrote to the council expressing their concern at the cost of the proposed new plant and at the trade waste fees that they were likely to be expected to pay.
Both companies indicated then that they would examine alternatives, including dealing with their own waste.