ORC has received more than 550 responses to date to its draft Land and Water Regional Plan, with more still being counted.
Following 12 public drop-in sessions held throughout Otago and two on-line meeting attracting more than 370 people, the online public responses to the Land and Water closed at midnight last night.
ORC’s General Manager Policy and Science Anita Dawe says she is “really pleased” with the feedback, both the number of people and organisations which took the time to provide feedback, and the suggestions for alternative ways to manage issues. “It is really important that our staff have alternative approaches to consider from the feed-back so they can weigh up the current draft rules against a workable alternative,” Ms Dawe says.
“There’s still a considerable amount of work to be done but staff have worked extremely hard and we are at a place where hitting the notification date is still on track for June next year,” she says.
While we don’t have a detailed breakdown, early indications are that we have feedback on most, if not all, of the rules. “That gives us a good opportunity to reflect on the draft, and where practical, make changes for clarity and improved environmental outcomes,” she says.
However, so far, the four general themes of most public interest have included proposed changes around setbacks from waterbodies for various farming activities, the suggested limits on the number of cows per hectare as a measure of intensity, the suggested restrictions on the amount of nitrogen fertiliser used per hectare and some useful feedback around minimum flows for the Manuherekia River, Ms Dawe says.
Where does the process go from here?
There will be two Environmental Science & Policy (ESP) workshops in November where staff will summarise the main feedback across topics and seek policy direction from the Committee. These workshops will be open to the public.
On 6 December, staff will be putting forward a paper which summarises the feedback received, for noting by Councillors. On 14 December there will be a full day briefing for ESP to talk through the draft plan that will be available for Clause 3 consultation in 2024. The briefing on 14 December will be public excluded, as it will be subject to legal privilege.
The Council will be asked in June next year to approve the plan for notification. They will see a draft version in December that is the pre-notification consultation version. There will likely be changes from the version they see in December, and the version which will be notified in June, depending on feedback received through the pre-notification consultation process.