Healthy Rivers open days due to start
The South Waikato District Council is currently working on how it will approach the submission process for the Waikato Regional Council’s Healthy Rivers Plan Change.
The plan change is aimed at boosting the health of the Waikato and Waipa rivers damaged by farming and will effect landowners over two hectares within the river catchments.
South Waikato mayor Jenny Shattock said it was a serious issue for the South Waikato as 100km of the Waikato river flows through it.
‘‘We have been really firm that we want economic growth but not at the expense of the environment,’’ she said.
South Waikato District Council group regulatory manager Sharon Robinson said $50,000 has been set aside for the process of paying for reports, specialists and going through the submission process.
She said the council has until March 2017 to make a submission.
‘‘It is national legislation and in my view from a purely planning perspective it is a pragmatic plan change,’’ she said.
‘‘It is going to have a huge impact on our district, there is no argument about that, but we have already made big changes in our District Plan for farmers and it seems to have settled in quite nicely.’’
She said once the council has made a submission it will have the option of supporting or opposing others.
‘‘They have to advertise submissions so everyone sees everyone elses and if you are a submitter you can support or oppose some of those submissions and then the hearing committee will make any changes and then there is the process of issuing the decision,’’ she said.
‘‘At each point we will come back to the council depending on what our budget allows.’’
A series of public open days are due to start shortly on the proposed change.
‘‘This is a great opportunity for farmers, growers, businesses and the general community to understand the detail of what’s being proposed,’’ Waikato Regional Council chief executive Vaughan Payne said.
‘‘These open days will help people to make informed submissions that help us reach workable solutions to the complex issue of water quality.’’
An open day will be held at the Putaruru Hotel on Monday, December 5 from 11am until 3pm.