Will Pokeno plant get green light?

02:09, Jul 16 2013

An independent commissioner will decide whether to give the go-ahead to a Chinese proposal to build a $230 million infant formula plant in North Waikato.

Waikato District Council's regulatory committee has appointed Michael Savage as commissioner to hear a land use consent application by Yashili New Zealand Dairy Company Ltd.

The council received 26 submissions on Yashili's application for resource consent to construct, operate and maintain a milk powder manufacturing plant on Hitchen Rd, in Pokeno's light industrial zone.

Public opinion appears divided on the multimillion-dollar venture, with 12 submissions in support and 11 opposed. Three were neutral.

The three-day hearing is scheduled for July 31 to August 2 this year and will be held in the council's Ngaruawahia chambers.

Nine submitters have requested to be heard. Yashili's proposal is to use ''locally sourced milk'', along with products such as milk-based whey powders and lactose, vegetable oils and some milk fat, to produce about 52,000 tonnes of infant formula a year.

The proposed plant will feature a range of process buildings, offices, warehouses, service structures and a 47 metre-tall dryer tower, covering 30,000 square metres of a 67,100sqm site.

Yashili, one of China's big three formula processors, was earlier this year cleared by the Overseas Investment Office to buy the Pokeno land for the plant.

A council planner will also review all relevant information, including the submissions, obtain expert advice and write a report recommending whether the consent be approved or declined.