Consents increase 20%

Environment Southland staff are under the pump as they are hit with the immediate effects of the Government’s new freshwater package.

Environment Southland’s consents division worked with a 20% increase in applications lodged since August.

This was expected to increase significantly as consents from the "dairy boom" of 2009-11 expired.

Consents manager Aurora Grant explained to councillors yesterday at a committee meeting the team was also dealing with more time-consuming inquiries relating to the changes.

A report she prepared for the meeting stated the policy bar for considering resource applications was raised significantly by the new legislation.

All applications relating to land or water use, and some coastal applications, must be assessed against the new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management , as well as all relevant plans.

That meant increased costs for applicants and more staff time spent on feedback for consultants and applicants.

The team had already started to receive applications under the new National Environmental Standards.

"There is definitely a lot of interest in the community about when doors will open for intensive winter grazing consents."

She said staff were working internally to plan what those consents might look like.

They were also waiting for the Ministry for the Environment to advise what farm plans would mean for consents.

Ms Grant recognised the need for the Southland community to have certainty, but said there were "a lot of things up in the air at the moment".

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