The Northland Regional Council (NRC) and Kaipara District Council have appointed four Commissioners to jointly hear and decide the applications made by Tegel Foods Limited for a free range poultry broiler farm at Mititai, near Dargaville.
The Commissioners are Sharon McGarry (Chairperson), Rob Lieffering, Reginald Proffit and Mark Farnsworth. The Commissioners have extensive hearings experience which covers the range of technical, cultural and local issues that have been raised by over 5000 submissions on these applications. I guess this means the Commissioners will ultimately decide whether or not the operation can proceed.
Or will they adjudge that it may proceed but under certain different conditions? It is interesting to note that almost six months ago, a seven year consent was granted by the NRC to Tegel to install eight ground water bores on or near the site of the proposed poultry sheds for the purpose of servicing the operation which has yet to get the official go-ahead.
This was processed separately as a non-notifiable application prior to the applications for the chicken farm though news of the intention was first mooted last November. Some residents fear the smell and “toxic” dust from the burning of litter and dead birds will devalue their properties through living in the “smell zone”. There is nothing worse than the smell of a digester at the freezing works on the other side of town yet there is never one complaint to that end. Why should this be any different? Someone cited a negative effect on tourism.
Really? Tourists don’t stop at Mititai and if they are on the Twin Coast route they will pass the property in a matter of seconds. There have been threats of people leaving the district if the poultry farm went ahead. Ten years ago there were threats of a mass exodus from Mangawhai when rates doubled. It simply didn’t happen.
There appears to be a groundswell of nimby-ism at work here. I know this property but I would be happy to bet that well over 80 percent of protesters would have no clue as to where Mititai actually is. I know a number of protest marchers are unemployed people. Are they worried about losing their benefits if they don’t apply for jobs at the farm?
It’s interesting that in an area with a high percentage of lower socio-economic residents and often high unemployment, people should be so against a genuine job opportunity. It’s also interesting that in the past ten years, despite rising numbers of vegetarians, our individual consumption of poultry has increased 25 percent – far more than any other meat source. KFC sells chicken by the bucketful – literally. Is there a positive to this? In perspective, the property is, in total, 250 hectares or around 600 acres in old parlance.
It is currently operating as a dairy farm. Certainly some type of farming will continue. The construction of the proposed poultry farm will include the development of 32 free range poultry sheds approximately 138m long by 20m wide.
The shed space will equal less than one hectare. At 10,000 square metres per hectare the area required will be no more than .004 of the total area. The poultry operation is expected to offer 28 jobs. Furthermore there could be a potential business opportunity going here.
Given the high nitrogen and balanced nutrients in poultry manure, if composted correctly chicken manure contains higher levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium than cattle, sheep or horse manure and thus has greater value as a fertiliser. it would seem a shame to waste such a precious source of nutrients. An estimated 40 tonnes per day could mean a lucrative business for some entrepreneurial person.
The hearings, scheduled to begin early next month, are expected to take around three weeks but, whatever the Commissioners decide or recommend, we can be fairly sure there will still be feathers flying for some time after that. Just my opinion.
Rob Pooley, Editor