Number of responses to draft land and water plan pleasing: ORC

The Otago Regional Council has received more than 550 responses to its draft land and water plan.

Council policy and science general manager Anita Dawe said 12 public drop-in sessions across Otago and two online meetings attracted more than 370 people.

The online public responses to the plan closed last week.

Ms Dawe said she was "really pleased" with the feedback, the number of people and organisations that took the time to provide feedback, and the suggestions for alternative ways to manage issues.

"It is really important that our staff have alternative approaches to consider from the feed-back so they can weigh up the current draft rules against a workable alternative.

"There’s still a considerable amount of work to be done but staff have worked extremely hard and we are at a place where hitting the notification date is still on track for June next year.

"While we don’t have a detailed breakdown, early indications are that we have feedback on most, if not all, of the rules.

"That gives us a good opportunity to reflect on the draft, and where practical, make changes for clarity and improved environmental outcomes."

However, so far, the four general themes of most public interest have included proposed changes around setbacks from waterbodies for various farming activities, the suggested limits on the number of cows per hectare as a measure of intensity, the suggested restrictions on the amount of nitrogen fertiliser used per hectare and some useful feedback around minimum flows for the Manuherekia River, Ms Dawe says.

The process from here includes two environmental science and policy workshops this month where staff will summarise the main feedback across topics and seek policy direction from the committee.

Both workshops will be open to the public.

Council staff will be putting forward a paper which summarises the feedback received on December 6.

A full-day briefing on December 14 would be for those involved with environmental science and policy to talk through the draft plan that will be available for clause 3 consultation next year.

The briefing on December 14 will be public excluded, as it will be subject to legal privilege.

In June next year, the council will be asked to approve the plan for notification.