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Final decisions on Tukituki Catchment Proposal

Final decisions on Tukituki Catchment Proposal

26 June 2014

The Board of Inquiry has today released its Final Report and Decisions on the Tukituki Catchment Proposal. The Board’s decision is to allow the Plan Change request with amendments, grant the 17 resource consent applications, and confirm the Notice of Requirement (NoR) for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (RWSS) subject to the conditions.

The Board of Inquiry adopted a ‘dual nutrient’ approach in the Plan Change to manage both phosphorous and nitrogen in the Tukituki catchment. This included setting an in-stream dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) limit/target, as well as on-land [maximum allowable] leaching rates for nitrogen, based on the Land Use Capability Classification System (LUC).

Following comments received on the Draft Report and Decision, the Board has, in addition to other drafting changes:

• Corrected an error and amended the rule that would have required individual farmers to observe the DIN limit/target in receiving waters. If an individual farmer complies with the LUC leaching rates (and meets the other requirements of the rule other than the DIN limits) the use of production land is a permitted activity;

• Resolved an anomaly in the rules relating to the use of production land by raising the upper threshold for exceedences of LUC leaching rates (from 10% to 30%) before a restricted discretionary activity becomes non-complying; and

• Clarified that compliance with the LUC leaching rates should be determined using a four year rolling average of either measured or estimated leaching rates derived from annual nutrient budgets.

The EPA’s Chair Ms Kerry Prendergast says the amount of information before the Board was immense (over 28,000 pages of material), the matters were highly complex, involving significant conflicting and technical expert evidence.

Ms Prendergast thanked the Chair of the Board, the Hon Lester Chisholm and the other Board members – Russell Howie, Matthew Lawson, Loretta Lovell and Alec Neill for their work with this proposal.

The decision followed the Board’s consideration of the application, submissions/further submissions, evidence and included a seven and half week hearing.

The final decision and report has been sent to all parties involved in the application. It is also available on the EPA website at the link below: http://www.epa.govt.nz/Resource-management/Tukituki/Pages/default.aspx

ENDS

Background

1. The Tukituki Catchment Proposal is made up of two parts, which are together considered a proposal of national significance.

• One part is the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s (HBRC) Proposed Plan Change 6, which covers a suite of changes to rules for land and water management in the Tukituki River catchment;

• The other is the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Investment Company Limited’s (HBRIC Ltd) application for 17 resource consents and a notice of requirement for the construction of a water storage dam and associated structures in the upper reaches of the Tukituki River catchment, relating to the RWSS.

2. On 5 June 2013 the Minister for the Environment, Hon Amy Adams and Minister of Conservation, Hon Dr Nick Smith directed a request for a call-in from the HBRC, and an application from the HBRIC Ltd to be considered jointly by an independent Board of Inquiry as a proposal of national significance.

3. The Tukituki Catchment Proposal is chaired by the retired High Court Judge, the Honourable Lester Chisholm who is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. The other four members are Environment Court Commissioner Russell Howie, Matthew Lawson, Loretta Lovell and Alec Neill.

4. The Board makes its decisions independently of the EPA and of Ministers. Its decision can be appealed to the High Court on points of law only, and it cannot be overturned by Ministers.

5. The Board of Inquiry in Plan Change 6 adopted a ‘dual nutrient’ approach to manage both phosphorous and nitrogen in the Tukituki catchment. This included setting an in-stream dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) limit/target, as well as on-land [maximum allowable] leaching rates for nitrogen based on the Land Use Capability Classification System (LUC).

Following comments received on the Draft Report and Decision, the Board has in addition to other drafting changes:

• Corrected an error that would have required individual farmers or farming enterprises to observe the DIN limit/target in the receiving waters. The rule has been amended so that if a farm property or farming enterprise complies with the LUC leaching rates (and meets the other requirements of the rule other than the DIN limits) the use of production land would then be a permitted activity (as detailed in paragraphs [446] to [450]). A consequential amendment has also been made to the RWSS consent conditions (as detailed in paragraphs [1252] to [1253]);

• Resolved an anomaly in the rules relating to the use of production land by raising the upper threshold for exceedences of LUC leaching rates (from 10% to 30%) before a restricted discretionary activity becomes non-complying (as detailed in paragraph [429]); and

• Clarified that compliance with the LUC leaching rates should be determined using a four year rolling average of either measured or estimated leaching rates derived from annual nutrient budgets (as detailed in paragraphs [466] to [469]).

6. You can read more about this proposal and the process followed on the EPA website here:

http://www.epa.govt.nz/Resource-management/Tukituki/Pages/default.aspx

7. The Board’s final decision has been released before the due date of 28 June 2014.

ENDS


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