Bay of Plenty Regional Council has appointed an independent hearing panel to decide on rules to manage nutrients coming from land use and ensure the long term sustainability of Lake Rotorua’s water quality (proposed Plan change 10: Lake Rotorua Nutrient Management).
The panel is to be chaired by retired District and Environment Court judge, Gordon Whiting, who was on the hearing panel for the plan change that sought to preserve Lake Taupō’s water quality.
Other specialists appointed to the panel are:
- Rauru Kirikiri, a Wellington-based consultant specialising in Māori-related issues including policy development, hui facilitation, strategic planning and cultural support, environmental issues and Treaty of Waitangi negotiations.
- Gina Sweetman, a practicing planner with a strong knowledge of all aspects of the Resource Management Act, with particular strengths in policy advice and statutory planning.
- Dr Brent Cowie, a consultant with 30 years’ experience in resource management, including freshwater ecology, water management particularly surface water and discharges as well as previously holding a role as a scientist for the Water and Soil Directorate of the former Ministry of Works and Development. He has had numerous hearing commissioner roles.
Chief executive Mary-Anne Macleod says the comissioners’ extensive experience will provide reassurance for everyone who has an interest in Lake Rotorua – including those that may potentially be impacted by the proposed rules.
“The commissioners are experts in many fields including resource management law, policy and statutory planning, water quality management, sustainable agriculture and treaty negotiations,” Ms Macleod says.
“Developing and consulting around the proposed rules has been a lengthy processs and they are by no means final.”
The Resource Management Act defines the formal process to be undertaken, and the independent hearing panel have mailed full information on the process they are implementing to all submitters.
This information includes:
- Where all relevant information can be found
- Information for submitters who wish to be heard at the public hearings
- Confirmation that the public hearings will be held at the Millenium Hotel, Rotorua in March 2017.
The hearings were originally scheduled for November however the commissioners have decided more time is required to allow submitters to consider Council’s recommendations in response to submissions and supporting evidence.
Ms Macleod says “The hearings will provide an opportunity for submitters to present their views on the proposed rules and whether they agree or disagree with them, as well as suggest alternatives.”
The proposed rules are just one part of the long term solution for Lake Rotorua water quality developed under the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme, which is a collaborative partnership between the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Rotorua Lakes Council and Te Arawa Lakes Trust.
To meet water quality standards set by the community, nitrogen entering the lake must reduce by 320 tonnes by 2032. Less than half of that, 140 tonnes, will come from proposed rules where landowners will need to make changes to the way they use their land.
One hundred tonnes will come from voluntary land use changes purchased by the Lake Rotorua Incentives Board, 30 tonnes will come from voluntary gorse conversion to trees, while 50 tonnes will come from engineering initiatives.
The proposed nutrient rules process has been underway for three years, with over two years of informal consultation and formal submissions welcomed in February this year.
Submissions to Proposed Plan Change 10 to the Bay of Plenty Regional Water and Land Plan closed earlier this year, with Council receiving 91 submissions from a range of organisations and individuals.