The Marlborough Chamber of Commerce says big companies could move overseas after a multi-million dollar salmon investment for the region was partially blocked.
The Environmental Protection Authority on Thursday granted approval to New Zealand King Salmon Ltd for four new farms in the Marlborough Sounds, but rejected five others.
Some local businesses are unhappy that not all nine farms will be developed, calling it a lost opportunity for hundreds of jobs to be created and tens of millions of dollars to be poured into the economy.
Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson says he is worried the company could move to another country such as Australia where investment is encouraged.
He says if Australia is being proactive about approving consents at a fraction of the price, the worry is that the New Zealand King Salmon Ltd and other operators will simply decide it's too hard to do business here.
Mr Dawson says he was hoping the expansion the company's operation would help establish a processing plant in Marlborough which would create jobs.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Defence Society says it is considering appealing against approval for the new salmon farms.