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Published: 2007-04-17 00:00:00

An Environment Waikato hearing committee has granted an application by Max Birt Sawmills Limited to discharge stormwater from a timber storage facility near Ohinewai to land and surface water.

The company operates a sawmill and timber storage facility on Lumsden Rd, about 10 kilometres north of Huntly. The facility is predominantly used to store both treated and untreated timber, but timber is also filleted, trimmed and dried there.

The resource consent application was publicly notified in the North Waikato News on June 22, 2005 and attracted 14 submissions.

Submitters included neighbouring land owners, the Department of Conservation, Fish and Game New Zealand, Waikato District Health Board, Watercare Services Limited and iwi.

An Environment Waikato hearing committee considered the application and submissions at a hearing in Huntly last month.

It heard a range of issues, including concerns about contamination of neighbouring properties and waterways, including Lake Waikare, by leachates, a lack of community consultation and flooding potential.

After considering all evidence the committee approved the application, but imposed a range of conditions.

These included a requirement to maintain drains to minimise flood risks and to undertake regular monitoring to determine the impact of stormwater discharges into the environment.

The monitoring programme will include sediment sampling at the site drain discharge points in Lake Waikare. This will assist Environment Waikato staff to build up a picture of any contaminant trends within the lake and make any adjustments required to the conditions at future reviews of the consent. An independent third party will undertake the monitoring work.

Max Birt Sawmills Limited will be required to provide a management plan for approval and minimise the discharge of contaminants from timber by following best industry practice. It will also be required to consult with the community via annual public meetings.

In stating its reasons for granting the resource consent, the committee said effects of the proposed activities on the environment would (subject to compliance with the conditions of consent) be likely to be minor, and would be adequately avoided, remedied or mitigated.

The application was also consistent with the Waikato Regional Policy Statement, the Proposed Waikato Regional Plan and the Resource Management Act.