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Regional Council Members Would Like Freeze On Water Bottling

Most regional council elected members want to see a freeze put on water bottling consents until the matter can be considered nationwide.

Bay of Plenty regional councillors have the opportunity to vote on a remit put forward by Queenstown-Lakes District Council to have a moratorium placed on water bottling and start a comprehensive nationwide discussion on the issue.

The remit requires councils to review inactive water bottling consents with a view to withdrawing the consent and discourages water “banking”.

All councils will be able to vote on the remit at the Local Government New Zealand AGM on August 21.

Regional council staff have suggested to elected members that they abstain from voting on the remit, known as remit 7, due to the fact that court action against the consent granted for the expansion of the Otakiri Springs is yet to be resolved and Ngati Manawa has recently put in a resource consent request for a bottling plant in its rohe.

Kohi Maori constituency councillor Toi Kai Rakau Iti was the first to say he believed the council’s delegation should vote to support the remit at the annual meeting and question if the court action and Ngati Manawa’s application would prevent the delegation from doing so.

A staff member told the council that there would be no legal or operational ramifications for the council for voting in support of the remit. He said there might be operational issues if the remit were to come into force.

The staff member said there was likely to be public perception issues regardless of which way the council voted and said the council could expect a decision on the High Court case soon.

Mr Iti said if the council was to ask its constituents what they thought, the majority would like the council to vote in support.

“I would like to support the remit as I feel water is a controversial activity that doesn’t have a lot of regulatory framework around it,” he said.

“Let’s look closer and put in place firm and well thought-out regulatory framework before we give out more 35-year consents.”

Mauao Maori constituency councillor Matemoana McDonald said she would also like the council to support the remit and said te mauri o te wai should be forefront of any decision regarding water.

Eastern Bay councillor Bill Clark, Tauranga councillors Stacey Rose and Andrew von Dadelszen, and Rotorua councillor Lyall Thurston also said they would like to support the remit.

“There is the issue of plastic bottles, two billion a year. If we don’t do a moratorium then where does it stop?” Mr Clark said.

“We are actively encouraging this activity and we have to take a stand. If we don’t, all that plastic is on our consciences.”

Mr Rose said he supported the remit because that was what the people of the Bay would want the council to do.

Mr Thurston said he supported the remit because it considered the four wellness principles the council stood for, water shortages, and te mauri o te wai.

Western Bay of Plenty councillor Jane Nees and chairman Doug Leeder were concerned that if the council did not abstain from voting then Ngati Manawa could take the view that the council was prejudiced against its resource consent application.

Tauranga councillor David Love said he supported the remit but it was important to note the five delegates, Mr Leeder, Ms McDonald, Ms Nees, Mr Rose and Kevin Winters, had the ability to “think on their feet” and vote as they saw fit on the day.

It was resolved that the delegates should keep in mind the majority’s views on the remit, that it should be supported, when making their vote.

Elected members also voted to support remits that advocated for the Government returning GST collected on rates to council, the local government election cycle being extended from three to four years, and the Government providing figures on how much each region contributes in taxes and how much is spent on it in return.

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