July 26, 2018 / 2:02 AM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-NZ's Tegel puts chicken farm application on hold for now, faces local opposition

* Wants to build farm capable of raising 9 mln chickens a year

* But local community worried about noise, pollution, Māori sites

* Tegel says application on hold for up to 130 days (Recasts on comment from Tegel)

WELLINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - New Zealand’s Tegel Group Holdings Ltd has temporarily put on hold its application to build a large chicken farm in the country’s north, the poultry firm said on Thursday, as it faces local opposition to the plan.

Tegel in 2017 applied for consent to build a farm capable of raising 9 million chickens a year for meat in the town of Dargaville, but the Northland Regional Council late on Wednesday said it had suspended processing the application at Tegel’s request.

“Tegel has requested a pause to allow additional time to respond to issues raised through the consenting process,” Evelyn Davis, General Manager of Human Resources at Tegel, said in an email on Thursday, adding that the halt would last for up to 130 days.

The proposed farm has faced stiff opposition from the local community, which has worries over potential noise and pollution, as well as concerns that the site is near indigenous Māori meeting and burial grounds.

Shares in New Zealand’s largest exporter of chicken slipped 0.88 percent to NZ$1.13 on Thursday.

The move comes as the firm is in the process of being acquired by the local unit of Philippines poultry supplier Bounty Fresh Food Inc.

Bounty made a NZ$437.8 million ($299.54 million) cash offer to acquire the firm in April, which Tegel’s directors in June unanimously recommended shareholders to accept. Bounty still needs approval from the New Zealand regulator that oversees acquisitions by foreign companies.

$1 = 1.4616 New Zealand dollars Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield Editing by Joseph Radford

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