Otago Fish and Game operations manager Ian Hadland looks
forward to starting work on reflooding the Takitakitoa
wetland. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A two-year fight to enhance a lower Taieri swamp is over
but Fish and Game Otago hopes it will not have to foot the
entire bill for the consent process.
A possible ''five-figure'' cost for the consent process for
the 60ha Takitakitoa enhancement project was daunting, Fish
and Game operations manager Ian Hadland said.
''We don't want to be walloped for every penny. I'd much
rather see precious funds sunk into planting and fencing
rather than consent fees.''
Fish and Game already faced costs of about $7000 for its
failed attempt to get resource consent for the project two
years ago but had yet to receive the bill for the latest
The consent costs would have to be funded by Fish and Game's
reserves from licence fees but the development of the wetland
itself would be funded by grants from the Game Bird Habitat
Trust, he said.
The project was delayed after the Otago Regional Council
informed Fish and Game it would probably notify its consent
application and also oppose it under its wetland rules, which
classed it as a significant wetland.
''Changing from one wetland type to another was interpreted a
bit narrowly as a non-complying activity and consent was
initially not granted,'' Mr Hadland said.
However, since then the regional council had amended its
wetland provisions to allow for projects which improved
wetlands. Previously, the rules presumed any change to a
wetland's state would be negative.
''The rules are tight for compromising the values of the
region's remaining significant wetlands and we totally
support that principle.
"We just never expected that to become an impediment to
improving the condition of a wetland and that caused a lot of
angst, costs and delays.''
Fish and Game regarded the second application for the wetland
project, in which 32ha of the drained wetland will be
reflooded, as a ''test case'' for the new wetland rules.
He wondered if it was fair for the council to impose on the
consent applicant the entire costs of interpreting its own
''We hope they'll take a pragmatic view of a project which is
Other regional councils had provisions for rebates for
similar projects which had community outcomes, he said.
Fish and Game had begun preliminary work establishing site
access to the wetland and hoped this summer to begin
construction of a 350m-long bund, thanks to the trust's
$29,000 grant, he said.
Another grant would follow next year.
The remainder of the bund would be constructed next summer.
''It'll be two years away before there will be any water
behind the bund.''
The aim was to improve wildlife and fisheries habitat.
Otago Regional Council policy, planning and resource
management director Fraser McRae said the council did not see
the consent process as being a ''test case'' and the council
had no policy for offering rebates for consent fees relating
to projects with community benefits.
''A policy would have to be developed and go in front of
council and we wouldn't do that on the fly.''