At least two appeals will be lodged with the Environment Court over plans for a $200 million cement plant at Weston, including one from the company which wants to build and operate it.
Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd confirmed yesterday that it would lodge an appeal today over some of the conditions imposed on the resource consents granted by the Otago Regional and Waitaki District Councils for its proposed cement plant and the associated limestone, coal and sand quarries in the Waiareka Valley.
The Waiareka Valley Preservation Society, which is against the plant, has already lodged a two-pronged appeal against the granting of resource consents and conditions in the consents.
Holcim was granted resource consents on February 11 by the two councils. Following that, there were 15 working days for an appeal to be lodged with the court.
Holcim’s capital projects manager, Ken Cowie, said yesterday Holcim would be filing with the court today.
The appeal was over conditions.
"It will be seeking to clarify some issues, seeking to get the wording a bit clearer to operate under the conditions and changing some of the detail," he said.
Mr Cowie understood that the court might not be able to consider the appeals until the second half of this year.
The first step would be a procedural meeting next month, or in April, which would consider what dates were available.
Mr Jones said the society had already lodged its appeal, and it could be joined by other parties. There were two steps to its appeal.
The first was against the granting of resource consents.
In the society’s view, not enough weight had been given by the independent commissioners who considered the consents _ Dr Phil Mitchell, Dr Kevin Rolfe and Martin Ward _ to the outstanding natural landscape in relation to the cement policy area in which the plant would be established.
"We feel they [the commissioners] got the balance wrong and more weight should have been given to the effects on the landscape," Mr Jones said.
The plant would adversely affect an outstanding natural feature and landscape, resulting in adverse effects that could not be mitigated by the conditions.
The Whitestone Bluffs (Te Ana Raki) at the plant site were to be identified in the Waitaki district plan as a significant natural feature.
The second part of the appeal was on the conditions.
Mr Jones said that, on the whole, the society was happy with most of the conditions.
"However, we feel there are some conditions which are not appropriate to address the adverse effects," he said.
If the court did not decline the consents, then the society would be seeking to make some conditions more stringent.
During the hearing of submissions on the proposal last year, the society suggested some conditions. It would be asking the Environment Court to include those.
The other issue was the designation of the railway line between Waiareka and the proposed plant, which had already been dealt with by the Environment Court.
Mr Jones said reinstating the railway line to transport cement from the plant was an integral part of the proposal. The society would be asking the court to clarify how consents for the plant could be dealt with before the designation was settled.
In its notice of appeal to the court, the society said the decision to grant consents for the plant and quarries was inconsistent with the principle of sustainable management.
It did not enable the local community and people of New Zealand to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being in accordance with the Resource Management Act.