Appendix 6: Summary of Formal Consultation and Deliberations
Just over 530 submissions were received during the formal consultation phase of the project, some supporting the Project and others against. Many submitters agreed that the work is needed, but want others to pay for it. After careful consideration of the submissions and evidence received, the Council has made a number of changes to the programme. These changes affect the level of work proposed and the Funding Policy.
Some of the key themes and issues to emerge from the submissions are summarised below :
- A number of submitters sought to delay the implementation of Project Watershed because they believed there had been insufficient consultation. Some submitters called for its abandonment.
- Many submitters considered that the Waikato River is a national asset so that the Crown should contribute to maintenance of scheme works. This was particularly the case with Lower Waikato submitters.
- There was also a strong view from Lower Waikato submitters that hydro companies should contribute more to Project Watershed on the basis of the effects of their operations.
- A number of drainage boards made submissions regarding implementation issues.
- Several Huntly submitters did not agree with the classification of areas of benefits. A number of submitters, including the Community Board, considered that a uniform annual charge or targeted rate on each property in the community would be more equitable.
- Submitters queried the classification of benefit, level of rates and identification of beneficiaries and contributors for the proposed works at both the Tauranga - Taupo river area and the Tongariro river area.
- A number of iwi groups submitted that Project Watershed could prejudice their Treaty of Waitangi interests in claims against the Crown which involved the river, its bed, banks, surrounding lands and tributaries. The iwi groups also questioned the consultation process with respect to Maori.
- A number of submitters considered that the proposed level of assistance to landowners for soil conservation was too generous. Some considered that 75 percent was an appropriate landowner contribution, while others considered that landowners should pay all soil conservation costs themselves. Some submissions also queried the proposed programme of works.
- The contribution of Hamilton City compared with the benefits it received was queried by Hamilton City Council which suggested that alternatives to a capital value rating should be explored.
- Hamilton City Council also submitted that hydro companies should be regarded as a major contributor to the need for any works which may be required to address the effects of riverbed degradation through Hamilton City.
- Otorohanga District Council submitted that the funding requirement for local protection works be increased to $90,000 and that associated direct benefit rates be spread evenly over all ratepayers in Otorohanga township.
- Otorohanga District Council also submitted that land to be retired in the Tunawaea area should not be purchased by Environment Waikato.
- Submissions from hydro power companies disagreed with the assessment of benefits and contribution for them. They also considered that further justification was required for new works.
Hearings of submissions were held in the Taupo, Hamilton and Mercer areas over several days. The Project Watershed Hearings Committee then deliberated over the evidence for five days. Technical experts were available to the Committee for any further questions relating to the evidence they had heard. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Project Watershed Hearings Committee resolved to make a number of changes to both the Funding Policy and works programmes notified in the draft consultation document. Those resolutions are summarised below:
- The allocation to landowners for soil conservation expenditure was increased to 65 percent, except for the Lake Taupo Zone and the Waitomo Catchment Control Scheme (50 percent and 55 percent respectively)
- The pastoral and urban contributor differential was consolidated as one differential and levied on land value across the catchment.
- The collection of direct benefit allocations in Huntly and Otorohanga urban will be through a targeted special rate from 2003, with a transitional arrangement for 2002 - 2003 being collection through a direct charge on Waikato District and Otorohanga District Councils respectively.
- On the basis of engineering investigation and submissions, the classification descriptions for Tauranga-Taupo were amended to define that part of Te Rangiita which obtains benefit from river management and control, This means that this area will have a reduced incidence of rating compared with Oruatua and the southern part of Te Rangiita, where properties obtain benefit from both flood control and river management works.
Budget Allocation and Cost tables
- That the collection of the budget allocations for Tauranga-Taupo and Tongariro river management and flood protection be as follows:
- 50 percent of the budget allocation for river management of the Tauranga-Taupo and Tongariro be added to general river management in the Lake Taupo zone, and rated in accordance with the Funding Policy for general river management.
- Tauranga-Taupo River: the remaining 50 percent of the budget allocation for river management, along with the budget allocation for flood protection, be rated in accordance with the Funding Policy for Flood Protection Tauranga-Taupo.
- Tongariro River: the remaining 50 percent of the budget allocation for river management along with the budget allocation for flood protection be rated in accordance with the Funding Policy for Flood Protection Tongariro.
- An additional $30,000 of capital expenditure per annum (i.e. annual operating expenditure of approximately $4,000) for the first three years was added to the soil conservation budget for both the Middle and Lower Waikato zones.
- That after considering and applying the principles relating to funding of expenditure needs in S122 of the Local Government Act 1974, Project Watershed development costs and debt incurred in the Lower Waikato Waipa Control Scheme be funded through Project Watershed.
- That any Crown contribution to main channel works in the Lower Waikato be offset against the costs of main channel work in the Lower Waikato, with net costs then allocated according to Funding Policy.
- That the accumulated debt be identified to each specific activity of the scheme. The debt will then be allocated to each activity and serviced by the rating revenue for that activity, so that it is recovered over the first 10 years.
- Other general debt and Project Watershed development costs will be recovered across the whole scheme by way of a general charge. These costs will be spread over the first 10 years of the Project.
- That budget provision for local protection works be removed for those drainage districts which have confirmed in writing their desire to remain independent of Project Watershed, (Whiskey Flats, Horseshoe, Onewhero West, Onewhero East, Ohairoa, Tuakau and Te Kohunga).
- That Iwi representatives be invited to form a Project Watershed Advisory Committee.
The cost table and funding policy revisions noted above have been incorporated into this document.