Bay of Plenty Regional Council has publicly released a report today from the panel of independent hearing commissioners who were delegated by the Council to hear submissions and evidence on the proposed Plan Change 10.
BOPRC will consider the report and its recommendations, and make a decision whether to accept or reject the recommendations at its upcoming Regional Direction and Delivery Committee (RDD) meeting on 2 August 2017.
Plan change decisions are usually conducted in a confidential session, however, the Council has made the decision to have that discussion in public.
“We are aware that there is an extremely high level of interest in this report from the independent hearing panel,” says RDD Chairman, Councillor Paula Thompson.
This meeting will now be held in Rotorua given this public interest.
The development of the rules has been underway for three years, and has included more than two years of public engagement and submissions.
The formal statutory process commenced with the adoption and public notification of the final version of Plan Change 10 in February 2016, with independent hearings held between March and May 2017.
The independent hearing commissioners received submissions and evidence from more than 50 individuals, groups and organisations.
“The Commissioners spent two months deliberating on the proposed rule change, resulting in the recommendations report which has been released today.”
Councillor Thompson says the RDD Committee’s upcoming decision is a formal part of the statutory process, and requires Councillors to maintain an open mind.
“Councillors must ensure that their consideration fairly and evenly addresses the report’s content and recommendations as they stand, and they are not able to consider any additional information that has not been part of this statutory process – whether this be from submitters, stakeholders or other parties.
“We are happy to meet with interested parties once the statutory process is complete and from there will determine the next steps.”
The Regional Direction and Delivery Committee meeting will be held at 9.30am, Baycrest Room, Sudima Hotel, 1000 Eruera Street, Rotorua. Members of the public are welcome to attend to listen to Councillors consider these independent panel recommendations.
The report and appendices can be found here
The Proposed Plan Change 10 to Regional Water and Land has been in development since 2012 and aims to introduce rules that limit the amount of nitrogen entering Lake Rotorua from land use to improve water quality.
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 these proposed rules, through a change to the way rural land is used in the Lake Rotorua catchment.
The proposed rules are just one part of the framework to achieve nitrogen reduction. An additional reduction of 100 tonnes of nitrogen 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.
After a series of public hui, workshops and drop-in sessions, two draft versions of Plan Change 10 were released in 2015 for formal feedback, with the final version adopted by Council and publicly notified under the Resource Management Act in February 2016.
This was followed by a further engagement phase, culminating in a total of 112 submissions, and leading to the establishment of an independent hearing panel.