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What could be . . . An artist's impression of what a new $350million waste-to-energy plant near Glenavy could look like. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Concerned Waimate district residents have called a public meeting to discuss the proposed waste-to-energy plant near Glenavy.

Last month, South Island Resource Recovery Limited (SIRRL), announced it had bought 15ha of land near Glenavy, at the corner of Carrolls and Morven Glenavy Rds, where it planned to build a $350 million plant that generated energy from waste.

SIRRL is a joint venture between New Zealand’s Renew Energy Limited, China Tianying Incorporated and Spanish company Urbaser. Its proposed plant, known as Project Kea, could convert 365,000 tonnes of waste into renewable energy each year, by burning rubbish to create steam which would then be fed through a turbine to produce electricity.

Board director Paul Taylor said the land sale was subject to being granted a resource consent, and the company was preparing its application which it planned to lodge in the ‘‘second half of this year’’. Consent is required from Environment Canterbury and the Waimate District Council, and the land sale is also subject to Overseas Investment Office approval.

Why Waste Waimate, an incorporated society formed last year after SIRRL announced its intention to build the plant in the Waimate district, has organised a public meeting at the Glenavy Hall at 7pm on May 19 to discuss the proposal.

Chairman John Guthrie said the group was strongly opposed to the plant, believing it would have detrimental consequences for the district. The public meeting was an opportunity for residents to air their concerns, and Mr Guthrie was hoping for a big turnout.

‘‘This is obviously something that’s going to affect the Glenavy community more than anybody else, but we really feel that it’s not just them that has to bear the brunt of it — it needs an urban and a rural response.’’

While the plant would be the first of its kind in New Zealand, Why Waste Waimate said waste-to-energy incineration was an outdated technology, and it did not address the real problem of waste production.

‘‘SIRRL says they are committed to recycling, reducing and reusing, but these incineration plants require a continuous supply of waste.’’

Mr Taylor said the company appreciated that people would want to know more about the technology being proposed.

‘‘SIRRL has engaged a range of experts to prepare a human health assessment and reports on air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, traffic, noise, landscape and visual impact, stormwater and domestic wastewater discharge,’’ Mr Taylor said.

‘‘All of these reports will form part of our resource consent application to be considered by an independent commissioner and will also be publicly available.’’

Mr Taylor said the proposed plant would bring ‘‘significant economic benefits’’ to the region, including work for up to 300 people in the building phase and 100 ‘‘direct and indirect’’ roles once built.

It would produce 240GWh, more than four times Waimate’s annual power use, and Alpine Energy would use its network to distribute this power into the local community.

The company had chosen Waimate because it was well-placed between Dunedin and Christchurch, and the land was close to the railway network. SIRRL has been in discussions with KiwiRail about bringing waste to the new plant by rail instead of by truck.

Once SIRRL’s assessments were complete, Mr Taylor said the company would hold local information sessions to talk in more detail about the technology.