Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora Plan Change Decisions Version Notified
Waikato Regional Council has today notified the decisions version of its groundbreaking Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora plan change.
It replaces previous notified versions of Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1: Waikato and Waipā River Catchments.
The council had until 22 April 2020 to make a decision on written and oral submissions to the plan change, first notified in October 2016 followed by a variation in 2018. The submissions were considered last year by an independent five-person hearings panel.
At an extraordinary meeting last month (18 March) the council supported notification of the hearings panel recommendations.
The council has been conscious of the extraordinary times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for our farmers the effects of the drought too.
The council has continued to review this developing situation and, as a result of the pandemic, the council this month applied to the Environment Court to extend the appeals period from the minimum 30 working days to 50 working days. This would give submitters and their legal counsel a time extension to late June-early July to lodge their appeals with the Environment Court.
A response from the court had not been received at the time of notification; however, updates will be published at www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/healthyrivers.
As part of the notification of the plan change:
- a public notice has been published in today’s Waikato Times and NZ Herald
- letters to all submitters will be lodged with NZ Post this week
- the decisions version of proposed plan change 1 and related documents have been published on www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/healthyrivers
- printed copies of the decisions version of the plan change and the recommendations are available on request from the council.
Our rivers are showing the signs of being affected by contaminants, with an increase in algal blooms and decrease in swimmability. The longer we wait to address these effects, the harder and more expensive it will be to fix.
That’s where Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora comes in. It’s the bold first step in an 80-year journey to achieve rivers that have improved water quality, are safe for food gathering along their entire length and meet the requirements of Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato, the Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River.
It is a change to the Waikato Regional Plan, with rules to manage both point source discharges (such as sewage from towns and waste from factories) and non-point source discharges linked to agriculture. First developed with the community, it allows for the management of nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and bacteria in the Waikato and Waipā river catchments.