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Published: 2017-05-29 14:00:00

Just over 1000 submissions made on Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 are now available online for people to read.

All 1,002 submissions can be found at: waikatoregion.govt.nz/healthyrivers under the “submissions” tab. 

Waikato Regional Council Director of Science and Strategy, Tracey May, said staff are working through summarising the submissions. As a result of the complexity and number of the submissions received this is likely to take another few months. Many of the submissions received have submitted on multiple parts of the plan and cover a number of topics. Each of the submission points need to be captured in order to inform the subsequent further submission and hearings process.

A consultation process is also underway following the withdrawal of an area of the proposed plan change to allow for consultation with some Hauraki iwi. Once consultation with Hauraki iwi is complete, recommendations will be considered by the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Committee and then full council. Council will then notify that portion of the plan that has been withdrawn, and will call for submissions on the withdrawn area.

Once submissions are received on the withdrawn area, these will be summarised and at that point all summarised submissions from both parts of the process will be made available, Ms May said.

“Preparing the submissions in this way will allow for submitters to consider the summarised submissions in an integrated way, covering both areas. It also means there will only be one hearings and decision making process,” said Ms May.

The council is working through the process to appoint five commissioners to hear submissions, with hearings likely to occur early next year. The five commissioners selected will be recommended by a subgroup of Te Rōpū Hautū, the Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora steering group. This sub-group will include two Waikato Regional Council directors, two river iwi managers and one representative from the Waikato River Authority.

Recommendations for the appointment of the five commissioners will then be made to the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Committee and then on to the full council for consideration mid-2017.

Hearings are expected to commence in early 2018.

Editor’s notes

  • Fresh water is our most important resource for the future and water quality is the number one environmental issue for our region.
  • Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 gives effect to the National Policy Statement on the Management of Freshwater (2014) and the primary direction setting document for the Waikato and Waipā rivers, Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato – The Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River, adopted by Government as part of Treaty settlement legislation.
  • This is the first decade of an 80-year journey for our region to make the Waikato and Waipā rivers swimmable and safe for food collecting along their entire length, as required by the Vision and Strategy.
  • A lot of good work and large investment has already gone towards improving water quality in the Waikato and Waipā rivers including approximately $60 million per year invested by urban rate payers towards improving wastewater discharge, $220 million allocated to the Waikato River Authority to clean up our rivers and $80 million allocated to the Lake Taupō Protection Trust to clean up Lake Taupō.
  • Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora ensures we are all playing our part.
  • In December 2016 a portion of the proposed plan change was withdrawn to allow consultation with Hauraki Iwi Authorities. Once that consultation process is complete and recommendations are made, these recommendations will be considered by the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Committee and then full council to make a decision to notify the withdrawn area and call for submissions.
  • More than 1000 submissions have been received on the proposed plan to date. Once submissions have been received on the Hauraki portion these will be summarised and both sets of summaries will be release together to allow for one hearings and decisions process.
  • Five commissioners to hear submissions are expected to be appointed in mid-2017. Hearings are expected to be held in early 2018.