More than half of the public responses on the Otago Regional Council’s draft Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) had a focus on farming and forestry activities, while water allocation and activities in the beds of lakes and rivers were also a common topic. Other topics to receive significant feedback were earthworks, damming, discharges of agrichemicals, wetlands, and outstanding waterbodies, says ORC’s Manager Policy and Planning, Fleur Matthews.
There were 12 public drop-in sessions held throughout Otago and two on-line meetings attracting more than 370 people over two months. There were also four targeted stakeholder sessions for specific interest groups: from the farming, forestry, territorial authorities, and environmental sectors.
“This report gives an overview of the feedback we got on each topic during the most recent stage of community and stakeholder engagement on the draft LWRP for Otago,” she says.
She was “extremely pleased” with the 573 responses, which was up 590% on the previous Round 2, LWRP responses, of 83.
By the 7 November closing date, there were 573 online public responses from individuals and organisations lodged with ORC, either by email or using the survey tool on the ORC’s website.
A report outlining the feedback was noted by ORC’s Councillors in a meeting earlier today in Dunedin.
Across the ORC’s designated FMU (Freshwater Management Units) or rohes, 31% of the feedback was “Otago-wide”, 15% each were for the Taieri FMU and Manuherekia rohe, 13% North Otago FMU, 11% Lower Clutha rohe, 5% Dunstan rohe, 3% each Catlins FMU and Upper Lakes rohe, and 2% each Dunedin and Coast and Roxburgh rohe.
She said a summary was written of the feedback received, organised by main themes on each topic.
“Although the summary doesn’t capture every single point of feedback provided, staff have reviewed and considered all the feedback, to assist with informing the next stage of plan drafting,” she says.
The summary was grouped by topics in the draft LWRP, in alphabetical order.
– Beds of Lakes and Rivers
– Damming and Diversion – Earthworks – Environmental flows and levels – Other discharges
– Outstanding waterbodies
– Primary production
– Stormwater – Waste
Ms Matthews noted each topic has a summary of the key issues, including comments, support shown or concerns raised over issues and in some cases alternative suggestions.
The areas of most interest to responders:
About 60% of respondents commented on the draft provisions in the primary production chapter.
About 25% of respondents commented on the draft provisions in the water quantity chapter.
About 25% of respondents commented on the draft provisions for the management of activities in the beds of lakes and rivers chapter.
About 10% of respondents commented on the draft provisions in the damming and diversions, earthworks and drilling, other discharges, and wetlands chapters, as well as the provisions for managing outstanding water bodies. Where does the process go from here?
There were two public Environmental Science & Policy (ESP) workshops in November, where staff summarised the main feedback across certain topics and sought policy direction from the Committee.
Today (6 Dec), staff put forward the paper which summarised 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.