Waikato locals 'appalled' by proposed Fonterra wastewater treatment plan

Locals fear the plant will cause "disgusting smells in the area".
Locals fear the plant will cause "disgusting smells in the area". Photo credit: Newshub

Locals in a town in the Waikato say they are appalled over plans to build a wastewater treatment plant in their backyard.

Fonterra is proposing to build the plant on the grounds of an existing dairy factory in Hautapu, but locals say it's far too close to town and fear it will lead to "disgusting smells" wafting in the area.

"My house is just 200 metres away, and there are about 70 people who are in that radius," Grant Eynon, spokesperson for a community group opposing the plan, told Newshub.

"It's just a terrible idea."

He said Fonterra is unable to guarantee the plant won't lead to foul odours and says the dairy giant needs to consider building it further away from businesses and houses in the area.

"They're not being good corporate citizens in our community I don't think," he said.

The treatment plant was originally slated to be built on the company's nearby Buxton Farm property, but those plans were put on hold after the local community there objected.

Jonathan Bouda, operations manager of Fonterra's Hautapu site, said the company undertook a review of possible locations following opposition to the Buxton Road proposal, and it was decided to construct the plant on the existing site at Hautapu.

"We looked at several options, and when taking a number of factors into consideration - proximity to neighbours, the ability for the proposed facility to satisfy District Plan rules for noise and odours, visual impact and the feasibility of construction – we now believe our manufacturing site is the best option for the facility," Bouda said.

He said the company was still in the process of working through the consent application. 

"We are aiming to locate the new facility where there will be minimal impact to the community while maximising the environmental outcomes. This includes not causing any objectionable odours beyond our boundary, which will be a condition of our consent."

Bouda said the company was working to find a "solution that works for both the community and the environment", and that it was "taking feedback from the community on board and acting on it."

But Eynon said despite the consultation, locals were "appalled" that it appeared a decision had now been made to go ahead on the Hautapu site.

"There are other viable options they need to and should look at, but they're being blind to those choices and it's very disappointing to us residents."