ORC says freshwater planning on track

The Otago Regional Council says it is on track to hit targets set by the Environment Minister.

Councillors this week approved the council’s fourth six-month update for David Parker since he told the council to get its act together and put fit-for-purpose plans in place to protect the region’s freshwater.

In a report to councillors this week, council policy and planning manager Anita Dawe said over the past two years "considerable progress" had been made against all of the minister’s recommendations.

The council was adding staff to get the work done and hitting milestones along the way in its work programme.

Over the past six months, planning, science, environmental monitoring, consents and compliance monitoring teams had improved.

An environmental implementation team had been created and was at present being recruited.

A new principal consents officer role had also been established.

Hearings on the water permits plan change had concluded, and a decision was due out in the middle of this month.

Mediation on the rural provisions of the council’s water plan had been successful, and a hearing was set down for early next month.

Mediation for the balance of the water plan could go ahead later in the year.

Court proceedings were afoot in the High Court to determine whether the council’s proposed regional policy statement was on solid legal ground.

Work to set minimum flows and allocation limits in the Arrow and Cardrona Rivers was complete.

A technical advisory group would report to the council’s strategy and planning committee on science related to minimum flows for the Manuherikia River.

Work on the Upper Lakes area and the Catlins was now starting, and the first round of consultation with the community for the those areas was scheduled for next month.

Council chairman Andrew Noone said the report showed a massive amount of work happening at the council.

"There’s a lot going on and I think we’re moving into a much sounder policy space as we do that, and a much sounder consenting space, and monitoring space, and land management space, and I know we’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s pretty impressive what’s going on," Mr Noone said.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

Comments

This really begs the question as to why this has not already been done? The disingenuous suggestion that everything is on track is misleading because things are only happening because of threats from the Minister. The hysterical knee jerk reaction of diverting attention by appointing yet more staff is just another insult to already over milked ratepayers and does not address the fundamental question as to why do we have this mess at all? However, tell this Council anything and they will pat themselves on the back and believe it!

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