Plan change 6A focus of meeting

''A slightly better understanding'' of the Otago Regional Council's new water quality plan was the result of a meeting between the council and the North Otago Sustainable Land Management Society in Oamaru this week. .

Attended by about 40 people, the meeting had been called by the society so council chief executive Peter Bodecker and other key environmental staff could answer questions about plan change 6A water quality, adopted in March.

Society member and dairy farmer Callum Kingan summed up the meeting outcome by describing it ''a slightly better understanding'' for those who were there.

Farmers could continue to do what they had been doing responsibly, but may need to change some things. Achieving water quality targets was ''about the whole district pulling its socks up and taking a collective approach'', he said.

The society had prepared a list of questions, read out by three of its members, which were provided to the council for staff to answer yesterday.

Society chairman Peter Mitchell said the questions were aimed at discussing the practical implications of the plan change.

They represented feedback and queries from farmers.

One issue raised was whether the council, as part of preparing plan 6A, had studied the economic impact the changes would have.

Environmental information and science director Fraser McRae said a ''simple in-house exercise'' had looked at the consequences, but not in detail.

He did not see major changes occurring.

''We did enough to satisfy ourselves there would be some impact, but this is also about water quality,'' he said.

The changes would not be ''massively disruptive''.

To carry out a full economic impact assessment would have been very expensive and it might reach assumptions that could be challenged, he said.

Mr Bodecker said some public submissions made on the plan change had included the economic impact and the hearings panel which made the decisions was made aware of those.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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