Minister-ORC chairman talks welcomed

The Otago Regional Council building in Stafford St. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The Otago Regional Council building. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The Central Otago Environmental Society has welcomed talks between the Environment Minister David Parker and Otago Regional Council chairman Andrew Noone.

A date is yet to be set, but the talks will discuss the ORC councillors’ decision regarding minimum flows on the Manuherikia River.

Meanwhile, a Central Otago Environmental Society (COES) petition calling for government commissioners to replace regional councillors has been presented to Mr Parker’s office.

On August 25, councillors voted not to note staff’s preferred minimum flows for the council’s land and water regional plan, which is due for notification in 2023, over what was called concerns about incomplete science.

The vote was a six-four split.

The decision led to allegations by four councillors of conflicts of interest, predetermination and unnecessary delays. They wrote to Mr Parker to express their concerns.

Cr Marian Hobbs also went on to sign the COES petition.

COES chairman Phil Murray said the petition was prompted by what COES viewed to be manipulation of the democratic process, and continued delay over remediation of the river.

In little more than a week, the petition gained 1500 signatures, including that of Cr Hobbs, and had been forwarded to Mr Parker ahead of talking with Cr Noone.

Mr Murray said the wide support for the river was gratifying.

‘‘All we are doing is 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.

‘‘The time has come to change our practices to support the Manuherikia, which has been such an important element of our identity and heritage.’’

He said he hoped the talks would result in a reversal of the decision to delay setting minimum flows for the Manuherikia River.


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