Fish and Game's plans for restoring the Takitakitoa Wetland
might be able to proceed now Environment Court appeals have
been resolved. Photo supplied.
Changes to regulations governing wetlands could give Fish
and Game Otago's Takitakitoa Wetland proposal a second chance.
Fish and Game's resource consent applications for the
restoration of the wetland have been on hold for a year while
appeals to the Otago Regional Council's wetland plan change
were in Environment Court mediation.
The mediated resolutions of those appeals, which were lodged
by organisations including
Fish and Game, Meridian Energy and Trust Power, were signed
off by Environment Court judge Jon Jackson last week without
the need of a court hearing.
For Fish and Game the sign-off means it can look again at the
Takitakitoa proposal which was put on hold after the regional
council said it was unlikely to approve the consents Fish and
Game was seeking as it would affect the values of the swamp.
Fish and Game had hoped to re-flood the 80ha wetland, near
Henley, by installing a 400m-long, 1m high bund about 400m
from the Taieri River to create 30ha of shallow, open-water
General manager Niall Watson said one of the changes made as
a result of mediation meant raising water levels in a wetland
would be considered a restricted discretionary activity
instead of a non-complying one which would have worked
against any restoration plans.
''It facilitates enhancement of wetlands which is a very good
thing particularly as many Otago wetlands need active
Otago wetlands were rarely pristine and most were modified so
they needed active management to retain their values, he
The wetland's listing would also be changed from having a
high degree of naturalness to having a high degree of
modification due to drainage and farm development.
Now the wetland was accurately listed and its values had been
inventoried, the proposal could be looked at again, he said.
Fish and Game needed to look closely at the wetland plan
changes and talk with the regional council about what they
''We're hopeful it will be more straightforward and it should
be able to proceed.''
Fish and Game would then need to reapply for the funding it
had secured but postponed when the project was put on hold.
Another change made to the plan recognised introduced water
fowl instead of just indigenous water fowl.
''Game-bird hunting is a major amenity value and the majority
of game birds are non-indigenous.''
Fish and Game had also conceded some issues including leaving
the wetland inventory outside the wetland plan so more
information could be added without a plan change, Mr Watson
Otago Regional Council policy director Fraser McRae said the
regionally significant wetland plan change would become
formally operative once it received the council's seal at its
meeting on September 18.
''Any opportunity for modifying it is long gone now the court
has approved it.''
The final approval of the court was the end of a ''long
road'' and it had been positive to settle it without a court
hearing, he said.