In the wake of numerous odour complaints related to Te Mata Mushrooms over summer the Hawke's Bay Regional Council (HBRC) has resumed enforcement action against the company and is holding a meeting tomorrow tonight with residents and interested parties to discuss the matter.
The odour issue came to a head in 2015 after the regional council prosecuted the company for multiple alleged breaches of its resource consent, including discharging "offensive and objectionable odour" beyond its property.
In 2016 the Environment Court fined Te Mata Mushrooms $15,000 and issued an enforcement order for a new resource consent, which would include conditions addressing odour issues.
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Hawke's Bay Regional Council group manager- regulation Liz Lambert said this new consent was received and notified that same year, attracting about 200 submissions.
One of the submissions was from theHastings District Council (HDC) which said that Te Mata Mushrooms would also need to lodge a land use consent application with HDC.
"We agreed to hold off going further with their new consent application till they had lodged the other one with the Hastings District Council and then everything could be heard together," Lambert said.
"We were given the undertaking that they would lodge that by October last year - they still haven't done that so we believed it was time to follow up."
The council had also agreed to suspend taking enforcement action against Te Mata Mushrooms, as there was nothing practical the company could do to resolve odour issues until the consenting process was complete.
Having received 179 odour complaints since December last year, however, and with no sign of the resource consent application at HDC, the regional council's patience had run out, said chief executive James Palmer in a letter to a large number of other submitters and residents that was distributed earlier in April.
"Over the summer we continued to receive numerous odour complaints from residents and despite discussions with Te Mata Mushrooms no improvements were noted.
"I then instructed staff to resume on-site investigations and verification of odour complaints - as a result HBRC has now commenced an enforcement process."
Lambert said the meeting tonight would give people an opportunity to find out what the HBRC intended to do about the issue, what the timeline was, and to get feedback.
Te Mata Mushrooms owner Michael Whittaker confirmed further charges had been laid by the regional council, and they were due to be heard in court next week.
He said the whole situation was "incredibly frustrating" given the company was doing everything it could, with limited resources, to gather the information for the HDC consent in a timely manner.
"We have done everything we have been told to do - we lodged our consent on time with the regional council and it was their decision to make that contingent on the Hastings District Council consent, not ours.
"We have worked as hard and fast as we can to get expert reports together for the Hastings council - we are not a huge corporation with tens of people in the management area able to do this work, and we have to run a business at the same time employing 120 people who rely on us."
He said the company was determined to remain at its Havelock North location, despite investigating moving part of the operation to Waipukurau, and was 100 per cent confident it could meet the conditions of the Hastings council's land use consent.
Lambert confirmed the meeting would be held at the Peak Vision Church tonight at 6pm, but said it had not been publically advertised as it was focused on informing the nearby residents and submitters.