Thursday, December 7, 2023

ECan receives 100-plus submissions on controversial feedlot

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A consent application proposing the development of composting feedlot barns on Banks Peninsula has local residents up in arms.
The proposed building of four large composting barns will house over 2000 cattle on the banks of the Kaituna stream, about 3km from Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere, which residents say is an environmental and animal welfare concern. Photo: LAWA
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One hundred and twenty-eight submissions were received for the controversial feedlots in Kaituna Valley, with the majority of them being naysayers, says Environment Canterbury (ECan).

In April 2022 farm company Wongan Hills proposed building four large composting barns housing up to 2200 cattle on the banks of the Kaituna stream, about 3km from Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere. The cattle, destined for the Japanese wagyu market, would be housed on a floor of either sawdust or straw designed to create compost at a high enough temperature that all the liquid in the effluent would evaporate. 

The nearest houses to the proposed development are just a kilometre away, prompting concern from the residents, who said the proposal “just came out of the blue”.

Campaigners, including Kaituna residents and the LREC, expressed concern about what they say is a major risk from leaching and flooding events of more nitrates being flushed into an already degraded lake; that there will be increased greenhouse gas emissions; of the impact of industrial farming on a beautiful valley including trucks, the stench of ammonia and the visual impact; and the threat to animal health that arises from living on a composting floor 24 hours a day, on a floodplain.

After establishing a high risk of land flooding and risk to the health of the lake, ECan duly issued public notification of two consent applications: one for use of land for a feedlot and composting barns and a second for discharge of contaminants (odour) to the air. Public submissions opened on February 1 and closed earlier this month.

ECan consents planning manager Aurora Grant said the council is “still working through” submissions and dates will be confirmed in the near future for those who wish to express their concerns before a panel of independent commissioners.

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