$100m milk dryer planned

By Brendon McMahon

Westland Milk Products plans to further expand the Hokitika dairy factory next year with the addition of a new nutritional milk dryer costing at least $100 million, have drawn 17 public submissions.
Expansion of milk drying capacity is part of a strategy by the West Coast farmer-owned co-operative to position itself as a supplier of high-end nutritional products than simply selling bulk ingredients such as milk powder.
The new dryer will be built in the south-eastern corner of the factory site, adjacent to the rail yard bordering the Hokitika River.
Westland District Council district planner Rebecca Beaumont said an independent commissioner had already been appointed to consider the application and hear the public submissions.
In a statement, Westland Milk Products welcomed the “strong support” for the planned expansion and promised to work closely with objectors to see how “concerns might be resolved”.
The company has previously signed off $2m to get the land use consent application under way.
Chief executive Rod Quin said the company appreciated the support of individual and local business submissions for the project.
“There is recognition that the economic growth of Hokitika and the region stands to be significantly advantaged by this proposal,” Mr Quin said.
Westland Milk had worked hard to mitigate “potential adverse impacts” of noise, dust and traffic from the new dryer.
“We believe our plans in this regard will be effective. But we are more than happy to meet with the objectors and see if we can find ways to further ease their concerns.”
It now had to rely on the statutory consents process and expected a “transparent, robust and fair hearing” where all views would be seriously considered, Mr Quin said.
If all goes to plan, the new plant will be operational in August 2015, manufacturing premium infant formula at a capacity of 3.9 tonnes an hour. The latest expansion plans add to the $23m currently being spent on a new boiler for the dairy factory site. That should be commissioned in September.