Whitehaven to lift output by 50pc

Whitehaven Wine Company has applied to install up to 28 new tanks at its Rapaura winery in Pauls Rd as it increases its crush from 5000 tonnes of grapes a year to 7500 tonnes.

Marlborough District Council resource management officer Alan Anderson said proposed consent conditions included the company upgrading its waste-water treatment system so offensive smells were confined inside its boundaries.

Council commissioner Jeremy Butler heard the Whitehaven application in Blenheim on Monday. Before making a decision, he said he would visit the winery; he also wanted more information on landscaping and roading.

Mr Anderson said neighbours had made four complaints about smells from the system from 2005-12 but the council took no enforcement action.

Whitehaven neighbour Rex Butt who spoke against the application said year-round, the winery's wastewater system repeatedly failed, releasing a smell like pig manure.

Neighbours would have complained more often but could not be bothered after learning by experience that nothing happened, Mr Butt told the Marlborough Express after the hearing.

Mr Butt was pleased Whitehaven had added plans for improved waste-water processing to its application.

"But in our experience, spending money does not fix the problem. There has to be commitment," he said.

The council decision to deny neighbours Willie Crosse and Cam and Josie Keown the right to submit because they lived on the opposite side of the winery to where expansion was proposed did "was a crock of bullsh...", Mr Butt told the Express.

Another issue was industrial creep as what was a small boutique winery in the early 2000s became a massive, industrial site, he said.

Under the Marlborough District Wairau-Awatere Plan, there was nothing to stop a big winery like Pernod Ricard setting up in the area, Mr Butt said.

The Whitehaven application says the expansion was to meet export demand. The 50 per cent increase in wine processed would also mean a 50 per cent increase in waste-water produced. The volume of water used to make wine would increase from 8700 litres to 11,520 litres but this was within the company's existing water permit.

The Marlborough Express