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 (external link)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 Council will then notify that portion of the plan that has been withdrawn, and will call for submissions on the withdrawn area.
Once submissions are received on the withdrawn area, these will be summarised and at that point all summarised submissions from both parts of the process will be made available, Ms May said.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.