CHB mayor Alex Walker says she will welcome Te Mata Mushrooms with open arms if the company proceeds with plans to establish a secondary site east of Waipukurau.
The Havelock North company has applied for a resource consent that would potentially enable it to operate a composting and mushroom growing operation on land at the end of Mt Herbert Rd.
But Mt Herbert Rd resident Catherine Ashby is rankled at the prospect of the large-scale mushroom producer — which has racked up nearly $20,000 in fines for odour problems and is due back in the Environment Court next month — setting up camp a few hundred metres down the road from the "poo ponds" at Waipukurau's wastewater plant.
"This has got right up my bloody nose and down the other side," said Mrs Ashby, who was concerned the arrival of Te Mata Mushrooms would only compound the odour problem at the wastewater plant, given the company's recent problems.
"I understand the need to bring business to the area to bring employment, but it should not be at the expense of the quality of people's lives," she said.
Though the company was yet to apply for resource consent from the district council, Mayor Alex Walker said Te Mata Mushrooms would bring much-needed investment and jobs to the district.
"I throw my arms open to anyone who is looking to invest in our district, who is looking to enable business success, and who is potentially bringing employment," she said.
Te Mata Mushrooms was fined $15,000 in the Environment Court last year and ordered to apply for a new resource consent to solve the odour issues at its site in Brookvale Rd. But Ms Walker was confident that safeguards would prevent history from repeating itself if the company set up in CHB.
"The [CHB] district plan and the regional plan have mechanisms to deal with different types of industries. And I think we would learn from what has happened in Hastings and Havelock North in the past and make sure we don't end up with the same situation," she said.
Te Mata Mushrooms has operated from the same Brookvale Rd site in Havelock North for 50 years, but encroaching urban sprawl has resulted in numerous odour complaints from residents.
By December there had been 320 odour complaints lodged with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council [HBRC] against the company — with HBRC compliance staff issuing three $1000 infringement notices across just one week in October.
In November, HBRC laid one charge against the company for unlawful discharge, carrying a maximum penalty of a fine of $600,000.
Te Mata Mushrooms owner Michael Whittaker said last week that moving its entire operations to the Waipukurau site was not financially viable, and it was "100 per cent committed" to staying at their current Brookvale Rd site, and also expanding there.
But it was looking to see if there was "any other way" of managing their compost operations — the source of the stink — which led to the CHB application.
Last December it lodged an application with HBRC to increase an existing water take consent, with the ultimate aim of establishing a composting and mushroom growing operation in CHB.
His company applied to increase the volume of water and for a new water permit to take water under high flow conditions to be stored in a reservoir within the bed of an un-named tributary of the Tukituki River.
The company ultimately wanted to construct a composting and mushroom growing operation on land east of Mt Herbert Rd, but in the meantime the land would be used for pasture or process crops.
It sought to irrigate up to 38ha of pasture and process crops in the area east of Mt Herbert Rd, and up to 9ha of apples within the area west of Mt Herbert Rd in addition to the 11 ha already irrigated.
Mrs Ashby, who has been critical of the effectiveness of council's attempts to stop the odours at Waipukurau's wastewater plant, said the problems at the plant should be resolved before any consideration is given to Te Mata Mushroom's plans.
"The installation of the misting system has not resolved the stink issue [at the wastewater plant]. It takes the edge off it, but at times people walking the tracks, down at the river, and on the river banks still get a full blast of it," she said.
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