The Waiareka Valley Society has made concessions over a proposed cement plant near Weston, but still opposes it being built in the Waiareka Valley.
Instead, the society is suggesting the cement plant be built in an industrial zone, in North Otago, and raw materials be transported to it.
The society has not lodged appeals with the Environment Court over OnTrack reopening the Waiareka to Weston branch railway line _ vital to Holcim’s proposed $400 million cement plant _ or over Holcim quarrying land it owns in the Waiareka Valley for limestone, sand and coal.
But society spokesman Rodney Jones said yesterday it remained opposed to the cement plant being built on the site selected by Holcim in the Waiareka Valley just west of Weston.
The new cement plant is one of two options being considered by Holcim to meet a growing demand for cement in New Zealand. The other is upgrading its existing plant near Westport and importing cement to meet any shortfall.
Holcim received resource consents from the Waitaki District and Otago Regional Councils in February for the cement plant and its associated quarries at Weston (limestone), Windsor (sand) and Ngapara (coal). Appeals, including one from the society and another from Holcim, were lodged with the Environment Court.
In July, OnTrack approved a designation for the Waiareka-Weston branch railway line so it could reopen it to serve the cement plant. No appeals have been lodged. Initially, the society considered appealing the reopening of the branch line but had decided to focus on fighting the cement plant being built in the Waiareka Valley.
Mr Jones said the society had carefully looked through the railway line decision, decided it was "robust" and it had no grounds for appeal. It also did not appeal the limestone, sand and coal quarries.
"Holcim owns those resources and we decided if it wanted to use them, they had the right to do that, subject to conditions being resolved," he said.
The society’s focus would solely be on the construction and operation of the cement plant _ processing the raw materials in the Waiareka Valley. Most of the environmental effects the society was concerned about were associated with the plant.