Report into ORC due soon

The "initial findings" of an investigation into the Otago Regional Council are in, but neither the environment minister nor the council is releasing them yet.Environment Minister David Parker said he expected to receive a final report from the investigator, Prof Peter Skelton, by the end of this month.

"I have received an initial update from Prof Skelton on his investigation," Mr Parker said.

"However, as I have yet to receive Prof Skelton’s final report, it would be premature to comment on its findings.

"For completeness, I add that I have written to the chair of ORC regarding Prof Skelton’s initial findings.

"Much like the approach we took to Prof Skelton’s 2019 investigation, it is my intention to make the final report public — once the investigation has concluded."

Prof Skelton was called in to investigate the council after chairman Andrew Noone wrote to Mr Parker to ask if he would be open to discussing an extension for the council to complete its land and water plan.

The plan is due to be notified by December 31 next year.

The deadline for its completion was imposed on the council after Prof Skelton first investigated the council in 2019.

At the time, he found the council’s planning framework was not fit for purpose, and the council subsequently agreed to a series of deadlines for Mr Parker culminating in the new land and water plan.

Prof Skelton met council staff and councillors last month as a part of the new investigation.

Cr Noone said there was nothing to say at this stage other than councillors were expecting a report to council by the end of this month.