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Published: 2003-11-05 00:00:00

Environment Waikato and Taupo District Council staff are concerned that people in Taupo are using stormwater drains to dispose of contaminants which then flow into Lake Taupo.

The company had applied to expand the existing operation, requiring consents for quarrying activities to an extended boundary, overburden disposal, vegetation removal, water takes and stormwater diversion and discharges to air.

In making its decision, the Hearing Committee said while the applicant was being prosecuted by Environment Waikato for discharge consent breaches, no weight had been given to the prosecution case. Few submissions in opposition were received and the Committee saw this as a sign the local community had no strong opposition to the quarry’s activities.

The potential for sediment runoff from the site was one of the key issues and had been a major concern in compliance, it said. Discharges had shown a marked improvement recently, and stormwater treatment ponds improved.

The Committee heard differing views from the company’s legal counsel and Environment Waikato’s staff report on the effects site discharges were having on the environment. It said there remained a need for appropriate discharge controls to minimise the cumulative effects of sediment point sources in the Region.

To comply with sediment control conditions the applicant would need to provide substantial additional stormwater storage on site.

The Committee said the applicant was uncomfortable with any regime of resource management which entailed Council staff taking a regulatory interest in daily management of the quarry, so a regime of carefully defined discharge limits combined with comprehensive monitoring requirements would meet the Act’s purpose.

It agreed to review minimum monitoring requirements after two years, but said monitoring may need to increase if conditions failed to achieve effective management of site discharge limits. If initiatives were implemented as stated the likelihood of significant adverse dust effects occurring would be reduced.

Bonds were imposed by both councils to ensure the site would not become abandoned without rehabilitation works being completed.

The applicant asked for a 35 year consent, but the Committee granted 25 year consents for air and water discharges to give resource security while satisfying the overriding need to address future environmental issues that may develop from potential technology changes, public perception, environmental performance or receiving environment quality.

The applicant had disagreed with a considerable number of recommended consent conditions and the Committee stipulated which were to be deleted, included or altered.