Fonterra hopes to begin construction of its proposed new milk powder plant in central Canterbury in a few months.
Canterbury Regional Council and Selwyn District Council have granted building, operating and discharge consents for the plant, on a 680 hectare site near Darfield.
Fonterra says provided there are no issues with consents or delays from appeals it expects to start work on the plant in the first quarter of next year, and aims to have it operating by September 2012.
Fonterra already operates a large plant at Clandeboye in South Canterbury, but with milk production in the wider Canterbury region growing at more than 5% a year, it's looking for more processing capacity.
The Darfield plant will be able to process up to 2.2 million litres of milk per day, equivalent to the production from 200 farms, and would be capable of producing up to 16 tonnes of milk powder an hour.
High value nutritional milk powders may also be produced there.
The regional and district councils have received more than 180 submissions on the plan, mostly opposing it.
Objectors raised concerns about the environmental and landscape impacts and increased heavy traffic in the area.
A significant number were also worried that the plant would lead to more dairy farms in the region putting further pressure on the water supply and water quality.