Whakatū set to fight 35-year resource consent application

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

The community of Whakatū is kicking up a stink about a new consent application that would see fumes from the Whakatū Wool Scourers continue to plague their town for another 35 years. Fumes they say are an overpowering smell of dead sheep.

"It's rude, it's disgusting, it's unfair, it's not right," says Whakatū local Darren Tichborne.

Young mum Ruby Houston has not long bought a house in Whakatū but because of the overpowering stench, she says the thought of moving out of the area has crossed her mind.

"As soon as you got into Whakatu, you could instantly smell the odour of sheep. It was just disgusting and my kids were instantly like, ‘Whoa mum, this is a bit stink’, so it is a pretty big issue especially for our babies," she says. 

It's not only the smell locals have to endure on a daily basis that's the problem but everything else that comes along with it.

"Especially when we hang our clothes out on the lines, there's fibres and gross stuff everywhere and it's not good," says Houston.

Just around the corner at Te Kohanga Reo o Whakatū, when the smell becomes too overpowering it has no other option but to bring its children inside until the smell disperses.

"First and foremost, I have to make this very clear; Te Kōhanga Reo o Whakatū oppose the resource consent for the extension of the wool scourers here in Whakatū," says kaiāwhina Angelina Wairau.

The plant has applied to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council for the maximum consent that can be granted of 35 years which has not been granted at this stage.

The council currently has it on hold while it awaits a response to its comprehensive further information request seeking information around proposed discharges to air and emissions control.

In particular, the assessment of the potential effects of emissions from the dryer stack has been marked as a priority, including assessing the health effects, odour effects, dust and the social, economic and cultural effects.

"We want that scourers shut down or at minimum seal the building, put it under negative pressure and put all the exhaust fumes out of the exhaust stack either through a bio filter or a chemical scrubber so that we're not being continuously subjected to the dust, fibres, wool fibres and odour that we're being subjected to and have been subjected to for the last 13 years," says Titchborne.

General Manager at the plant Adrian Donnelly said that he didn't want to make a comment at this time about the consent application nor hear the concerns of the locals.