Opponents of Holcim’s proposed new cement plant near Oamaru are taking heart from Mighty River Power’s decision to scrap the Marsden B power station. They believe the government should be sending the same signal to Holcim as it did to Mighty River, that plants emitting huge amounts of CO2 are not acceptable. Waiareka Valley Preservation Society spokesman Rodney Jones says the proposed 1m tonne cement plant is now the largest greenfield CO2 emitting plant on the agenda in NZ. It would emit more than 800,000t of CO2 per year. Jones believes Holcim’s proposed plant makes less sense for NZ than Marsden B, where at least the output and profits would have been retained within NZ, instead of going offshore.
Holcim is about to lodge resource consent applications for the plant with the Waitaki District and Otago Regional Councils. Holcim’s Strategy and Development Manager, Paul Commons, says the company is committed to minimising the plant’s impact on the environment. Commons notes the Resource Management Act is one of the most stringent environmental processes in the world, so if the cement plant gets resource consents, the public could be confident it met environmental standards. He stresses even if Holcim gets resource consents, it won’t necessarily build the Oamaru plant. Other options include upgrading its Westport cement plant, and building a new plant at an alternative site in the Waikato-King Country area.