Weston Option cement plant - the resource management process


Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd expects, within the next two months, to formally lodge the applications for various resource consents needed under the RMA to construct and operate the proposed Weston Option cement plant and associated quarries and pits.

A plant at Weston is one of several options being considered by Holcim to meet market demand for cement.

The Resource Management Act (RMA) is the main law protecting our environment, and controls the use of air, land and water in New Zealand. It is designed to ensure that activities won't harm our neighbours or our communities, or threaten the air, water, soil and ecosystems that we and future generations need to live. The RMA process requires local councils to ensure that effects on the environment are managed sustainably.

Lodging the applications for resource consents with the Otago Regional Council and Waitaki District Council will follow a period of community consultation and communication started by Holcim New Zealand in May 2006, and will mark the beginning of the formal RMA process, as shown on the accompanying diagram.

Copies of the full applications will be available at public locations (libraries, council offices), and Holcim will also make sure that people have access to the full application and technical reports and have the opportunity to ask questions.

The next phase of the process is set by the RMA, and is run by the regulatory authorities (in this case the Otago Regional Council and Waitaki District Council). The process provides for the public to make submissions on the project, and have those submissions heard by the regulatory authorities.

The opening of the period for making submissions on the project will be advertised in the Oamaru Mail and Otago Daily Times. People will have at least 20 working days to prepare and lodge submissions.

Once the submission period closes, a hearing date will be set. This is likely to be a joint hearing involving both Councils. At the hearing the panel, usually made up of a combination of councillors and expert commissioners, will consider the submissions made. Anyone who wishes to do so can speak to their submissions in front of the panel considering the applications.

The panel will consider all of the information before it, including the submissions and make a decision on whether to grant or decline the various applications, or to grant the applications with conditions. The RMA allows submitters to appeal Council decisions to the Environment Court.

A final decision regarding the various options being considered by Holcim will be made by parent company, Holcim Ltd, probably in 2008. Any decision would take into account resource consenting outcomes, land ownership, commercial contracts, community consultation, as well as the policies and plans of local and central government.

For more information
Gerald Raymond
Phone 027 443-7253