Campaigners are fighting plans by New Zealand poultry company Tegel to build the largest chicken farm in the country.
Tegel has applied for resource consents to raise 9 million birds a year, partly in barns, on former dairy land at Arapohue, near Dargaville, on the country’s North Island.
In its application, Tegel said it wanted to satisfy growing consumer demand for free-range, sustainably-produced food.
“This results in a free-range farm that is bigger than any developed in New Zealand, which… presents challenges in the management and operation of the farm.”
The proposed farm would have 32 free-range sheds and associated infrastructure and says the $80m venture will create 32 jobs and boost the local economy by $2.3m/year.
The company has been at the centre of a multi-million dollar takeover bid by Filipino firm Bounty Fresh Food Inc, which seems set to go ahead.
But the application has led to nearly 5,000 submissions lodged with the Northland Regional Council and Kaipara District Council opposing the farm.
The Kaipara Community Association is battling to raise NZ$60,000 to hire experts to represent them at upcoming resource consent hearings. It believes the site – which is alongside the Northern Wairoa river is prone to flooding.
There are also concerns over pollution, odour and dust.
“This type of industrial poultry farming is known as a breeding ground for antimicrobial resistance and avian influenza,” spokeswoman Rose Donovan told the New Zealand media.
Hearings are due to begin next month.