Asphalt plant setback: EW says site unsafe

Plans to build an asphalt plant in the Hamilton suburb of Hillcrest have been dealt another blow with a report by Environment Waikato staff recommending its resource consent application be declined.

It is the second report to undermine Blacktop Construction Ltd's proposal, with an independent review released last month saying the Riverlea Rd site was not well suited for air discharges and there would likely be adverse effects from odour emissions.

The Environment Waikato report on the company's application said even if the plant was appropriately constructed, operated and maintained, it would have "more than minor actual or potential adverse effects on the environment".

It is also inconsistent with the purpose and principles of the Resource Management Act, the report said.

Opponents of the asphalt plant, led by the Riverlea Environment Society, welcomed the report but cautioned the matter would not be determined until after a resource consent hearing next month.

Society spokesman Stephen Hamilton said the report was a "hopeful sign" the council would reject the proposal.

"We are delighted by the recommendation but emphasise that the final outcome will depend on maintaining informed opposition through the hearing process," he said.

Dr Hamilton hopes Blacktop will acknowledge that Riverlea Rd is an unsuitable site and find an alternative location.

Hamilton East National MP David Bennett, who has been campaigning against the plant on behalf of nearby residents, said yesterday's report was encouraging. "This is positive first step for the Riverlea residents in their fight against the proposed plant. Environment Waikato would have to go against its own advisers to grant the application. "The reality is that it's the wrong application for the wrong area."

The resource consent hearing will be held on February 18 at the Riverlea Theatre and Arts Centre from 10am. The hearing will continue until February 29, if required.

The council received 529 submissions, 521 opposed the plant, five supported it, three were neutral and 280 wished to be heard.

Waikato Times