Get the facts right

10 May 2007

Media Release

Holcim New Zealand is calling for debate and discussion on its proposed $200 million cement plant at Weston, near Oamaru, to be based on fact and not statements that are quite simply wrong.

"Ensuring people have accurate information is extremely important to Holcim," says Paul Commons, General Manager, Strategy and Development, for Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd.

"We have taken significant steps throughout the process to communicate with all stakeholders and the wider community. This has been done through meetings, open days, advertorials, information sheets and website features to name but a few. "This approach of listening to and working with the whole community will continue. It is of concern that some people are continually making inaccurate public statements. For example, recent statements that the plant is three to four times the size of the plant proposed in the 1980s are quite simply wrong.

"The 1980s plant clinker design-capacity was 500,000 tonnes per year. The current proposal is for 788,000 tonnes. This increase reflects New Zealand's greater population and increased demand for concrete over 25 years. The plant footprint is actually the same as that proposed in the 1980s.

"Another statement that this would be the largest industrial complex in the South Island is also wrong. Other large industrial sites include Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter which is many times larger, Fonterra's operations at Edendale and Clandeboye, Oceana Gold, the Alliance Meat Processing works at Lorneville and Mataura, and others.

"Holcim has been focused on helping people with visual information and for many months now has been using its visual modelling programme (K2VI) with neighbours and others to help them understand the proposal and what they may see from their properties. This will continue to be available for any interested parties to view. "We have always said we are keen to meet with people about this project and to ensure they have accurate information on which to make their own assessments," Paul Commons says.

"That applies whether they are experts, neighbours or any other interested people." Paul Commons is also calling for a meeting between landscape and visual amenity experts representing the company and those representing the Waiareka Valley Preservation Society.

"That requested meeting has yet to occur. Our expert from Boffa Miskell is available and would welcome this meeting to discuss the landscape and visual amenity report that forms part of our resource consent applications. It is important these experts meet to discuss the work that has been done so that any questions can be addressed. To date we have no knowledge of any questions or concerns being voiced by the Waiareka Valley Preservation Society's landscape expert."

Holcim's applications for resource consent include numerous maps, viewpoints and photomontages that are used to discuss aspects of the project. The development of photomontages is a technical and exacting exercise. As part of the resource consent application process, these assessments will be extensively reviewed by experts appointed by the Waitaki District Council.

"Requests by the Society for Holcim to provide modelling software data and internal workings used to produce the photomontages is highly unusual," says Paul Commons.

"Giving all of this extensive data would produce exactly what has already been produced by Boffa Miskell's landscape experts.

"Visual assessments can be subject to misinterpretation and manipulation, deliberate or otherwise. Holcim will continue to make both the technical assessments and the relevant experts available to discuss, explain and avoid this problem.

"This project will provide a major economic boost for Weston, Oamaru and the wider Waitaki district. It will create jobs and provide another robust industry that has a long-term future in the region," concludes Paul Commons."