Northland has missed an opportunity to create jobs and wealth after plans for a multimillion-dollar broiler chicken farm in the region failed, a business leader says.
Poultry giant Tegel on Monday withdrew its resource consent applications submitted last October to the Northland Regional Council and the Kaipara District Council for the chicken farm in Arapohue, east of Dargaville.
The proposed chicken farm would have had a capacity to stock up to 1.3 million broiler chickens in 32 poultry sheds, together with an energy centre that would burn about 40 tonnes of litter daily.
The company estimated 28 jobs would have been created at the Arapohue site.
But the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) this week declined Tegel's application to buy land in Arapohue for the farm due to considerable uncertainty on whether the company would obtain the consents.
"The large number of submissions from community members and Kāpehu Marae helped illustrate the difficulties that Tegel would have had in gaining the resource consents it needed to proceed," Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage said.
"Accordingly, it was uncertain whether the claimed benefits of additional jobs and export receipts from the land sale were likely to occur."
Dargaville Business Forum chairwoman Jean Johnson said Kaipara had plenty to offer those such as Tegel who wished to invest in the district.
"Dargaville has missed an opportunity for expanding its commercial business. However, we're keen to invite other positive businesses to invest in the Kaipara," Johnson said.
"We have plenty to offer by way of workforce, a supportive town, and easy access to Auckland."
In July, both councils recommended to the independent commissioners to decline Tegel's resource consent application because odour discharge would likely result in significant adverse effects on neighbouring property owners.
Only 17 of the nearly 5000 submissions the councils received were in support of a broiler chicken farm.
Tegel said it was disappointed its resource consent has been declined but refused to say whether the company would appeal.
The company can apply to the High Court for a judicial review of the OIO's decision if Tegel thinks the ministers took wrong matters into account while arriving at their decision.
"The multimillion-dollar proposal would have created New Zealand's most advanced and environmentally friendly free-range chicken farm alongside 34 new jobs in the Kaipara district," Tegel spokesman Liam Baldwin said.
Arapohue residents and representatives from the nearly Kāpehu Marae opposed to the chicken farm are thrilled at OIO's decision to decline resource consent.
Karen Exley, who lives on Whakahara Rd just south of the proposed farm, was rapt both councils and the OIO did their homework.
"One of the obstacles we faced was people were arguing the chickens were free range which was misleading to the public. I am really passionate about pushing for a law change around how chickens are raised by Tegel throughout the country.
"I've got nothing against Tegel but they should advertise their business for what it is so that people are well-informed. People think chickens enjoy an idyllic lifestyle outside but that's not the case."
Betty Shine, secretary of Kāpehu Marae, said the OIO's decision resulted in a huge sigh of relief from her members.
"Now we can sit back and relax after having so many meetings, including two protests in Auckland. It was an unwelcome distraction and the decision to decline resource consent means we can go ahead with our normal lives."
Shine said members of the marae knew Tegel would find the going tough after both councils recommended the consent be declined.
October 2017- Tegel puts in a joint application to the Northland Regional Council and Kaipara District Council for resource consents
March 2018- deadline for public submissions
May - both councils request Tegel for more information, including evidence of job creation and plans to mitigate odour
June - independent commissioners appointed to deal with submissions through a public hearing
July - both councils suspend the hearing after a request from Tegel
September- Overseas Investment Office declines application to buy land
October - Tegel withdraws joint application for resource consents