Two territorial authorities in Northland want independent commissioners to decline resource consent applications for a proposed broiler chicken farm.

Poultry giant Tegel has applied for consents for various activities associated with the construction and ongoing operation of the poultry farm at Arapohue, about 12km south east of Dargaville.

In another recent development, a hearing on the consents by four independent commissioners scheduled to start in Dargaville on August 8 has been suspended until further notice.

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It came after Tegel said it needed more time to work through issues identified by the Northland Regional and Kaipara District councils which recommended the application be declined.

The proposed chicken farm would have a capacity to stock up to 1.3 million chickens in 32 poultry sheds, together with an energy centre that would burn about 40 tonnes of litter daily.

Discharge of contaminants to air, earthworks, diversion of stormwater and the taking of groundwater are some of the activities Tegel intends to undertake before and during the farm operation.

But irate locals opposed Tegel's plan, saying the stench would be unbearable and the change in the landscape could devalue their properties.

Nearby Kāpehu Marae was also opposed as the farm's boundary would be only 5m from the marae's wharenui and 350m from the urupa.

Kaipara Community Association members are among those opposed to Tegel's proposed chicken farm. Photo/Supplied
Kaipara Community Association members are among those opposed to Tegel's proposed chicken farm. Photo/Supplied

Only 17 of the nearly 5000 submissions the Northland Regional and Kaipara District councils received supported a broiler chicken farm.

In his report to the independent commissioners recommending Tegel's application be declined, NRC consultant Ruben Wylie said the proposed odour discharge had the potential to result in significant adverse effects on neighbouring property owners.

That conclusion, he said, had been formed due to the uncertainty surrounding the likely odour emission rates discharged from the poultry sheds.

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KDC reporting planner David Badham reached similar views, saying the level of odour would be unacceptable to a number of people who have not provided their written approval for the chicken farm.

He said the proposal did not achieve the sustainable management of natural and physical resources due to the potential for significant adverse odour effects and insufficient information in terms of the effects on māori cultural values.

"There is insufficient information to properly evaluate the potential cultural effects on Kāpehu marae and urupā and more broadly the relationship of their culture and traditions with their ancestral land and waahi tapu, which could potentially be significant and unacceptable," he said.

Public protest in central Dargaville against Tegel's proposed broiler chicken farm. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Public protest in central Dargaville against Tegel's proposed broiler chicken farm. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Marae chairwoman Professor Margaret Mutu said she was very relieved both councils have recommended Tegel's application be declined.

"Such a development would have a major negative impact on us. It was clear that it would severely violate the tapu of both our urupā and marae and that we, the whānau of Kāpehu would pay a heavy price for that. We cannot allow it to happen."

Tegel's response to discharging odour was that it was a permitted activity that did not need a consent, she said.

Mutu said representatives of Kāpehu marae met with Tegel twice and asked them more than 40 prepared questions and while the company answered most of them, some of the answers really upset her members.

"Basically Tegel were saying we had no choice but to accept their proposal because it would go ahead whether we liked it or not."

Tegel general manager human resources, Evelyn Davis, said the company would address the issues raised in both council reports within the resource consent process.

Kaipara Community Association chairwoman Karen Exley was pleased both councils saw fault in Tegel's plan.