Christchurch residents cautious about new organics processing plant in Hornby

Residents in Horny are cautious about the new organics processing plant.
Residents in Horny are cautious about the new organics processing plant. Photo credit: RNZ

Story by RNZ

A Christchurch residents' association says it wants to see for itself whether the council's new organics processing plant will emit a smell.

Ecogas will build the enclosed plant to replace the current open-air model, which had plagued the suburb of Bromley with horrendous stenches for over a decade. It was expected to be operational in 2026.

Ecogas and Christchurch City Council representatives gave an in-depth presentation about the new plant at a public meeting on Sunday in Hornby.

Greater Hornby Residents Association administrator Marc Duff said dozens of residents had raised concerns.

"Traffic is a huge one for Hornby, because our infrastructure at the moment is struggling with the traffic we have got. There were concerns about in event of an emergency, what would be the most dangerous factor that could happen at the plant," he said.

"[But] the overwhelming concern was would there be any odour that would go into the air."

Ecogas said no smell would be emitted from the plant, but Duff said it would take more than words for residents to believe that.

"For me, yesterday it was like we were given a recipe of what's coming into our community and what to expect. We were shown pictures of the Reporoa plant and also the one in Auckland, but now what we've got to see is the proof in the pudding," Duff said.

"I don't think any suburb would like the smell going into their area or having a barbecue and having that repugnant smell in the air. In Hornby, we already have Tegel and Ravensdown, we have a very good relationship with Ravensdown, and if this consent [for the organics plant] goes through, then we would like to enjoy the same good relationship with Ecogas."

Ecogas was willing to answer queries and had offered a group of representatives from Hornby and nearby Prebbleton and Templeton to tour one of its North Island plants, he said.

"We've got a tour up there in February and I think that will just close it out and give us more answers to the questions that we have."

On its website, Ecogas said: "The fully contained anaerobic digestion plant will be modelled on Ecogas' North Island operations, where it has successfully managed odour in processing Auckland's kerbside food waste.

"The planned development on an industrial site in South Hornby will also process commercial and industrial organic waste with additional capacity for kerbside and garden waste from other councils in the area ... The renewable energy produced will help Christchurch industry decarbonise through local options for sustainable fuel.

"Ecogas also looks forward to working with Canterbury farmers by providing a locally produced biofertiliser that can replace imported synthetic fertilisers and has been proven to be effective on Waikato dairy farms."

Ecogas have been contacted for comment.