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Published: 2017-04-06 13:45:00

Waikato Regional Council is calling for registrations of interest for five independent commissioners to sit on a panel to hear submissions on Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1.

Advertisements went out last week on the Government Electronic Tenders service.

“We understand the level of interest and the importance of the proposed plan to our community and we are seeking highly experienced and independent commissioners,” said Waikato Regional Council director of science and strategy Tracey May.

The selection process requires advanced experience working with the Resource Management Act 1991 and an understanding of the legislation that underpins the direction setting document for the management of the Waikato and Waipa river catchments, Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato (The Vision and Strategy for the Waikato and Waipā Rivers), as well as the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (2014). A knowledge of the Waikato and Waipā river catchments is also considered advantageous.

The five selected will be recommended by a subgroup of Te Ropu Haatu, the Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora steering group. This sub-group will include two Waikato Regional Council directors, two 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 the on to the full council for consideration.

More than 1000 submissions on the proposed plan change are currently being summarised. Summaries are expected to be available mid-year.

Hearings are due to commence in early 2018 with Commissioners giving their recommendations in mid-2018.

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 the rivers and $80 million allocated to the Lake Taupo Protection Trust.
  • 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. Decisions will be made in 2018 at which point people can appeal to the Environment Court if they wish.