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Society disappointed with Holcim Decision

Press Release: Waiareka Valley Preservation Society

11 February 2007

Society disappointed with Holcim Decision

Today the proposed Holcim Cement Plant at Weston, just outside of Oamaru, was granted consent - subject to some fairly stringent operating conditions.

Rodney Jones, Spokesman for the Waiareka Valley Preservation Society commented:

“We are disappointed that the Commissioners have confirmed their interim decision of 23 November, and granted consent for Holcim to construct and operate a one million tonne cement, a limestone quarry, an open-cast coal mine, and a sand-pit in the Waiareka Valley. The Commissioners recognised the significant adverse effects associated with this proposal, and have sought to manage these adverse effects through stringent conditions. However, we believe this was the wrong approach. Consent should have been declined.

The plant Holcim proposed would not be acceptable for a similar new cement plant in Indonesia or China. The Commissioners recognised that the Holcim group globally has a poor environmental record, and through tight conditions on sulphur dioxide emissions, the Commissioners have ensured that this plant will meet first world standards. Moreover, emissions of heavy metals will now be closely monitored, something Holcim was not prepared to offer.

However, this plant should not go ahead. It does not make sense in the 21st century to construct a million tonne cement plant in front of a significant natural landscape, in a valley full of significant historical heritage for both Maori and Pakeha.

So far this has been a local issue. But it will not stay that way.

On 2 February the Waitaki District Council notified the railway designation for the Waiareka Industrial Line, a line that had been closed in the 1990’s and notarised as closed in the District Plan. The Society sought a Declaration from the Environment Court on this matter, and the Court ruled that the railway line was required to go through a full designation process. The consent granted today is on the basis that the designation for Waiareka Industrial Line will be restored.

This raises the issue, that through the State Owned Enterprise Ontrack, the Government is facilitating the construction of a railway line to a greenfield coal-fired cement plant. It is beyond us how this action can be reconciled with current government policies, in particular the moratorium on the construction of fossil fuelled power stations.

The Society has carefully considered today’s decision, and the interim decision of 23 November, and will be filing an appeal with the Environment Court.”

Rodney Jones

Waiareka Valley Preservation Society


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