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Published: 2010-07-22 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is welcoming Government plans to implement changes relating to the development of aquaculture, including in the Waikato region, says the council’s policy group manager Vaughan Payne.

Cabinet has proposed making changes which include using legislation to alter the Waikato Regional Plan to help speed up aquaculture developments in the Firth of Thames.

About 2500 hectares of suspended aquaculture applications in EW’s area of responsibility in the western Firth will be re-activated under the proposals. The Government is expected to provide tools to help the council manage high demand for use of public spaces.

The proposals come as EW has itself been working on changes to aquaculture rules to allow more development within the Wilsons Bay Marine Farming Zone.

"The Government is proposing to assist us with speeding up change by using legislation to deem amendments into the Waikato Regional Plan," said Mr Payne.

For example, the changes will enable applications for finfish farming in the zone as long as environmental standards are met, Mr Payne said.

He stressed that the Government is not proposing to remove broad prohibitions on aquaculture for environmental protection reasons but wants to enable marine farms to diversify and allow small scale expansion of existing farms.

"We support changes to the law to allow aquaculture to grow and look forward to engaging with the Government to identify the appropriate changes to make to our current Waikato Regional Plan."

EW will, meanwhile, be continuing on with a review of which areas are most suitable for aquaculture development.