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Published: 2017-04-04 13:00:00

An application for judicial review of Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1, sought by Horticulture NZ and others, has now been withdrawn.

On 22 March 2017, Horticulture NZ filed a notice to discontinue the proceedings in the High Court.

The group made an application for judicial review following the partial withdrawal of an area of the proposed plan change to allow for consultation with Hauraki iwi. The group claimed the withdrawal had split the catchment and didn’t give effect to Resource Management Act requirements to develop catchment wide solutions to water quality issues.

Waikato Regional Council director of science and strategy Tracey May said council had outlined to the group the process to reincorporate the withdrawn area into the full plan change process and they were satisfied it could be effectively dealt with.

“Protecting and restoring the health of the Waikato and Waipā rivers is paramount for all involved. We all want the plan change put back together again and for the merits of what’s proposed to be appropriately debated at the hearing stage.”

The council is working through a process with relevant Hauraki iwi with recommendations on the withdrawn area expected to be made mid-year.

During the development of Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora the council had focussed on working with the five recognised river iwi. After notifying the proposed plan in October last year Hauraki iwi gave notice it also had an interest in the plan change area.

The area partially withdrawn is about 11 per cent of the Waikato and Waipā rivers catchment in total. It has 6135 unique ratepayers (about six per cent of landowners affected by the plan change), including those in small centres like Te Kauwhata.

Once recommendations from the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Committee are made to the council, notification of plan provisions for the withdrawn area will occur. The council will also provide landowners in the area with information so they can also submit on those provisions.

The council intends to merge the two processes at the earliest possible opportunity so that there is only one hearings and decisions process.

Editors notes.

  • Water quality is the number one environmental issue for our region. A healthy environment is essential to creating vibrant communities and a strong economy 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 Taupo Protection Trust to clean up Lake Taupo.
  • Healthy Rivers Wai Ora ensures we are all playing our part
  • More than 1000 submissions have been received on the proposed plan which are currently being summarised. Summaries will be made available mid-year and the council will call for further submissions. Hearings are expected to be held in late 2017, with decisions in 2018. People can then appeal to the Environment Court.