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7.6.6 Surface Activities Affecting Significant Geothermal Features

7.6.6.1 Permitted Activity Rule – Existing Activities in the Vicinity of Significant Geothermal Features

The on-going use, operation, replacement and/or maintenance (including associated soil disturbance and vegetation clearance) of any of the following land use activities and associated structures lawfully established as at 23 August 2003, in or within 20 metres of, any Significant Geothermal Feature:

  1. Traditional cultural activities in accordance with Tikanga Maori
  2. The Urupa at Ohaaki Steamfield West;
  3. The cap of the asbestos repository in the Wairakei borefield; and
  4. Roads, tracks (including boardwalks), wells, drilling ponds (including drilling ponds used in the past which may be used in the future for maintenance drilling operations), pipelines, power lines and associated supporting structures, steamfield infrastructure;

 

is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. There shall not be:
      1. Any clearance of vegetation; or;
      2. Any direct deposition of a contaminant (including herbicide), clean fill, solid waste, soil, sediment or vegetation (other than of native species for the purpose of ecosystem restoration);

    beyond two metres from the activity or structure.

  2. Best management practices shall be adopted to avoid indirect deposition of any contaminant (including herbicide), clean fill, solid waste, soil, sediment or vegetation beyond two metres from the activity or structure.
  3. Any activity permitted under this rule shall not alter the scale, size, extent or location of a lawfully established structure, or create a new structure.

 

7.6.6.2 Permitted Activity Rule – New Activities in the Vicinity of Significant Geothermal Features

Exception

This Rule does not apply to:

Plantation forestry activities as from 1 May 2018 these activities are regulated under the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry Regulations 2017.

 

The following activities in or within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature:

  1. Vegetation clearance of invasive exotic plants;
  2. Traditional cultural activities in accordance with Tikanga Maori;
  3. Soil disturbance associated with fencing to protect the feature;

 

are permitted activities subject to the following conditions:

  1. There shall not be any direct deposition of a contaminant (including herbicide), clean fill, solid waste, soil, sediment or vegetation (other than of native species for the purpose of ecosystem restoration) beyond two metres of the activity or any structure.
  2. There shall not be any clearance of vegetation (other than invasive exotic plants) beyond two metres from any structure.
  3. No new structures, other than fencing to protect the feature, will be erected.
  4. Best management practices shall be adopted to minimise damage to indigenous plants and avoid indirect deposition of any contaminant (including herbicide), clean fill, solid waste, soil, sediment or vegetation (other than of native species for the purpose of ecosystem restoration) beyond two metres from the activity or structure.
  5. Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) shall be notified in writing of the activity within one month of the commencement of the activity.

 

7.6.6.3 Discretionary Activity Rule - Activities in the Vicinity of Significant Geothermal Features

This Rule still applies to plantation forestry activities and prevails over the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry Regulations 2017 which came into effect on 1 May 2018.

 

Except as provided for in rule 7.6.6.1 and 7.6.6.2 any:

  1. Vegetation clearance or soil disturbance, in or within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature; or
  2. Discharge of contaminants into or onto land in or within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature, except for discharges that are regulated by other rules in this Module; or
  3. Damming or diversion of geothermal water that affects a Significant Geothermal Feature; or
  4. Activity specified in s13(1) of the RMA carried out in, on, over or under that portion of the bed of a water body which is a Significant Geothermal Feature; or
  5. Livestock access to a Significant Geothermal Feature;

 

is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent).

For the avoidance of doubt, this rule does not apply to the operation of the Waikato River system for hydroelectric generation as authorised by resource consents commencing 12 April 2006.

Assessment Criteria:
The matters that Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) considers in the assessment of a discretionary activity under this rule will include, but not be limited to:

  1. The extent to which the cultural values of tangata whenua are recognised including their kaitiaki role with the geothermal resource;
  2. The extent to which consultation with key stakeholders including tangata whenua has been undertaken and the recognition of concerns has been taken into account.
  3. The extent to which adverse effects on Significant Geothermal Features will be avoided, remedied or mitigated and if mitigated how this will be achieved, for example ‘like for like’ enhancement;
  4. The extent to which the activity mitigates pre-existing adverse effects on a natural geothermal feature;
  5. The extent to which associated infrastructure such as structures, pipelines and wells will be designed, constructed and placed to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects on biodiversity, landscape and amenity values;
  6. The extent to which the following factors are taken into account:
    • the practicality and costs of alternative locations or methodologies and the benefits that each option provides
    • the use of a precautionary approach in situations of scientific uncertainty;
  7. The expected duration of the activity;
  8. Whether the activity is the best practicable option.

 

Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Rules 7.6.6.1 to 7.6.6.3

Rules 7.6.6.1, 7.6.6.2 and 7.6.6.3 regulate certain activities in and within the vicinity of Significant Geothermal Features, irrespective of the type of Geothermal System. Rules 7.6.6.1, 7.6.6.2 and 7.6.6.3 seek to ensure that the effects of these activities, where they occur in and within the vicinity of Significant Geothermal Features, are adequately avoided, remedied or mitigated. This is achieved by classifying most new activities (those not lawfully existing at 23 August 2003) as discretionary, thereby giving the Council discretion to grant or decline consent, and to impose appropriate conditions on any consents that are granted. Rules 7.6.6.1, 7.6.6.2 and 7.6.6.3 give effect to Regional Policy Statement Section 3.7.3, which ensures protection for Significant Geothermal Features from inappropriate uses of land and non-geothermal water.

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