05 February 2016

Achieving a balanced and sustainable economic, environmental, social and cultural future for Rotorua’s lakes is the core focus of the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme – a partnership between the Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC), Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC).

RLC have proposed a change to the nature and structure of this programme, with plans for the establishment of a new Council Controlled Organisation, the Lake Rotorua Protection Trust.

The proposal has not yet been agreed by the Programme’s partners, BOPRC and Te Arawa Lakes Trust. RLC have publicly discussed the proposal at a Lakes Water Quality Society annual meeting and on its website this week.

BOPRC councillors formally received the proposal at its December 17, 2015, meeting, and agreed that significant work needed to be undertaken – including a detailed risk assessment and business case – so that councillors could give the proposal comprehensive consideration amid concerns about the risk of impact on progress and potential increase in operating costs to run such a CCO.

Any changes at this stage could have the potential to negatively impact on the timely progress that is being made with the lakes, while the additional cost of running such a Trust would be at the expense of Rotorua and regional ratepayers.

As such, BOPRC believes it is prudent to undertake appropriate due diligence and fully investigate and understand the potential risks and impacts.

Just like economic development, healing the lakes for future generations is a long-term process. If the strategy continues to change, there is a risk of undoing the progress that has been made, and extending the timeframe to achieving water quality targets.

Since the BOPRC decision on December 17, 2015, work has already commenced on risk analysis and any suggestion that the proposal has been been left to “let lie on the table” is untrue and extremely disappointing.

Resolving the health of Rotorua’s lakes requires a collaborative approach between science, the economy, technical and legislative requirements, councils, iwi, public and private organisations, landowners and the wider community.

We know more about the impact of our economy and society on the lakes than we did 30 years ago, and through the intensive work of the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme, we know even more than we did six months ago.

Significant work has been undertaken in recent years and great progress has been made, all with the focus on striking a balance between the environment, the economy and the needs and desires of our local communities.

These aspects are inextricably linked and the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme seeks to achieve sustainable outcomes for everyone involved, including landowners and the wider economy.

BOPRC will continue to work with its Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme partners to ensure a collaborative and co-ordinated approach to achieving the environmental, economic, societal and cultural outcomes that we all need and desire.