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Hastings wastewater decision announced

12 October 2001 Media Statement

Hastings wastewater decision announced

Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee today announced that she has approved a permit for the Hastings District Council’s discharge of wastewater.

She said the permit conditions were largely in line with the changes to the proposal approved by the Environment Court.

“The council had agreed that by December 2, 2002 it would separate and milliscreen all separable industrial wastewater, and by 2007 it would have implemented a system to remove a significant proportion of the human waste from the flow.

“The main change I have made to the current proposal is that the consent’s expiry date shifts from 2020 to 2014. This means the council will have to consider other options for dealing with wastewater by 2010.

“I have reduced the consent period because the council’s proposal will not markedly improve effluent quality during the permit term. The shorter consent period allows the council enough time to examine options yet provides the community the opportunity to reconsider this important issue within an acceptable timeframe.

“This decision also avoids imposing a greater financial burden on ratepayers and industry than what the council had agreed to in its latest proposal. I am aware that the cost to ratepayers was a major consideration for the council. It means that the council will have to look at options earlier, but this will not necessarily result in the introduction of a higher cost system,” Ms Lee said.

“I want to encourage the cleaning up of our seas and see improvements in the quality of effluent discharges as an important part of this exercise,. Ms Lee said.

The council’s existing permit expires next year, when the new Restricted Coastal Activity Permit will start. The council has established a committee with tangata whenua to carry out the requirement to consider other options, with community consultation due by 2010 and a draft plan due for release by 2012.


Background Information

What did the council apply for?
The Hastings District Council applied for a restricted coastal activity permit to continue to discharge up to 2800 litres per second of sewage and industrial wastewater into Hawke’s Bay via a 2,750m long outfall.

What is a restricted coastal activity permit and in what circumstances is one needed?
Organisations or individuals need to seek a restricted coastal activity permit when their proposal could have significant or irreversible adverse affects on the marine environment.
Proposals that may give rise to restricted coastal activities are reclamations, impoundment, dredging and dumping, exclusive occupation, introduction of exotic plants and discharges of human sewage to the coastal marine area.
The Minister of Conservation is the consent authority, who grants or declines restricted coastal permit applications.

What have been the milestones in the district council’s application to seek new wastewater disposal permissions?
The Hastings District Council’s current permission to treat and dispose of sewage expires in March 2002.

The council first applied to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council in 1999 for sewage treatment and disposal post 2002. Nine submitters supported the application and 24 opposed it.

In September 1999 the regional council hearing committee adjourned the hearing so that the district council could carry out further consultation with affected parties, including tangata whenua.

The council subsequently altered its proposal and the regional council hearing proceeded. It made its recommendations in September 2000.

The Hawke’s Bay Clean Sea Coalition, Napier City Council and David Renouf then appealed the recommendations to the Environment Court. Their concerns included; the level of proposed treatment, consultation, the consent term and the need for wastewater quality standards.

The appeals were settled by consent and amendments made to a number of the recommended conditions in the district council’s application. The Environment Court endorsed the changes on 19 June 2001.

The Department of Conservation then coordinated the provision of advice to the Minister, who sought further information and had discussions with involved parties prior to her decision.

What factors was the Minister required to take into account when making the decision?
The Minister was required to take account of the regional council hearings committee and the Environment Court proceedings in her decision-making. However, as consent authority, the Minister is independent and can make a decision that is not in keeping with the previous findings and recommendations.
Under the Resource Management Act, the Minister needs to have regard to:

- The purpose and principles of the Resource Management Act
- Any actual or potential effects on the environment of allowing the activity
- Any relevant national policy statement, New Zealand coastal policy statement, regional policy statement or proposed regional policy statement. In this case the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Policy Statement.
- Any relevant objectives, policies, rules or other provisions of a plan or proposed plan. In this case the Hawke’s Bay Regional Coastal Plan.
- The nature of the discharge and sensitivity of the receiving environment, the applicant’s reasons for making the proposed choice and any possible alternative methods of discharge.
- Any other matters the Minister considers relevant and reasonably necessary to determine the application.
- In the case of sewage discharges the nature of the discharge and the sensitivity of the receiving environment to adverse effects and the applicant’s reasons for making the proposed choice, and any possible alternative methods of discharge including discharge into any other receiving environment.

How does the new permit granted differ from the council’s proposed system?
The new permit does not change the actions the council proposed to undertake. What is does change is the length of time the council has to consider all options for the treatment and disposal of wastewater, consult the community, and prepare its next wastewater management plan.

Where can I get further information?
- The regional council holds records of the proceedings of hearings committees
- More information on restricted coastal activity permits and regional coastal plans can be found on http://www.doc.govt.nz

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