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A petition calling for government commissioners to replace Otago regional councillors is now in the hands of the Environment Minister.
It has been signed by 1500 people.
The Central Otago Environmental Society launched the petition about two weeks ago after the majority of councillors voted not to note minimum flows on the Manuherikia River for the council’s land and water regional plan, which is due for notification in 2023.
Councillors were concerned about a lack of science and instead asked for more technical work to be done, including habitat modelling, and a scientific peer review of the hydrology work.
However, society chairman Phil Murray said the society saw the decision as ‘‘manipulation of the democratic process, and continued delay over remediation of the river’’.
He welcomed a decision by Environment Minister David Parker to meet Otago Regional Council chairman Andrew Noone to discuss the decision.
The petition, which gained 1500 signatures in six days, was forwarded to Mr Parker ahead of the meeting.
Sitting councillor and former chairwoman Cr Marian Hobbs is among those who signed it.
Mr Murray said the society was ‘‘trying to give voice to the natural environment of Central Otago, which continues to be degraded by those with personal and financial stakes in preserving the status quo’’.
But councillors have defended their decision, including Cr Kevin Malcolm, who said seeking further science would allow them to ensure the best decision was made for the Manuherikia River and community.