Construction of a $30 million food waste to bioenergy facility in Reporoa is under way.
The project is expected to create more than 90 jobs during the construction phase and employ about 30 people when complete.
The Broadlands Rd site was blessed in August last year and last month the Rotorua Lakes Council approved $3m for construction to begin on the new Biogas facility.
It was one of 94 building consents worth about $19m issued in February.
The facility is owned by Ecogas - a joint venture between Pioneer Energy Ltd and Ecostock Supplies Ltd – on land owned by T&G Fresh.
Ecogas director and energy strategy adviser Grant Smith said it was great construction was now under way after three years of planning and development.
"The recent consent issued is for the main foundation and building works that will house all the food scraps processing equipment.
"Later in the year, we should see the main digestor tanks built on these initial foundations works."
Smith said the site works will cover about two hectares and include a digestion tank farm, processing building and truck turning areas.
"We have also built rainwater collection ponds and storage tanks so we utilise as much of the rainwater collected as we can for our cleaning and washdown, which then is recycled back into the main processing tanks.
"Once the building and foundation works are completed around May this year we will have the steel fabricators on-site to build the tanks and main pipeworks."
Smith said the project will employ more than 90 people during the construction phase.
Once operational, the facility would create about 30 jobs between the 24/7 on-site operations, trucking of food scraps into the facility and distribution of biofertiliser to local farms, he said.
"The plant will operate for more than 30 years and plays an important role in reducing climate change emissions by avoiding loss of food scrap resources to landfills and instead producing a renewable biogas and biofertiliser products.
"We are located on T&G Fresh's land next to their glasshouse and will supply renewable heat and power plus CO2 for tomato growing, thus we also support their local economic contribution with renewable energy supply."
Smith said the facility could support the wider regions and was within economic reach of the Bay of Plenty and Auckland.
"Ecogas is building satellite facilities in Auckland to support collection and transfer of organic food wastes to Reporoa."
The project has Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) support by way of construction loan funding and is also a contributor to the Government's "shovel-ready" infrastructure programme to help ensure economic recovery from Covid-19 impacts.
"We are pleased to be able to progress this project despite the Covid lockdowns and appreciate the Government's loan funding support to do this."
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the Reporoa initiative was "right in the slot of where we should all be focusing".
That focus was on how to create sustainable solutions and products and developing the "emergency circular economy".
"Historically, many businesses have regarded much of the sustainability korero with scepticism and just another compliance cost. That is a bygone age.
"The environmental issues are the biggest single driver of our future business markets and opportunities, and we are delighted to see such a local initiative."
New St John Ambulance building
The Rotorua Lakes Council also approved a $1.2m consent for the fit-out of the new ambulance hub on Te Ngae Rd last month.
R & B Property Group managing director Ray Cook said it had been an "exciting and interesting" project.
"I think it's a fantastic opportunity for Rotorua not only creating employment but an ongoing asset that's well needed for Rotorua."
St John territory manager at the Lakes George Clicquot said it was a "great milestone" in what has been a long journey for the St John Rotorua frontline ambulance staff.
The project is expected to be completed by mid-November.
Top five commercial consents:
New BIOGAS FACILITY
3057 Broadlands Rd
New ST JOHN AMBULANCE BUILDING
216 Te Ngae Rd
LUGE RETAINING ALTERATIONS
178 Fairy Springs Rd
1129 Pukuatua St
ALTERATION OF STAFFROOM LAYOUT
100 Aquarius Dr
Source: Rotorua Lakes Council