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"Yes" to city's wastewater treatment plans

22 Jun 2009

"Yes" to city's wastewater treatment plans

Gisborne District Council has gained resource consent approval to build the city's wastewater treatment plant on land it owns in Banks Street. The discharge consents remain for a period of 35 years from 2007, when the existing consent was granted.

Consents have been granted to vary the conditions of existing consents, enable the treatment plant to be built on the Banks Street site and to discharge contaminants from the proposed plant to air.

In a decision released Thursday 18 June, the panel of independent commissioners chaired by Alan Watson granted all applications. The decision was made after a  2 day hearing in mid-May that included hearing evidence from a variety of experts and considering the 10 submissions received.

Both the applicant, the council's engineering and works department, and the submitters have 15 days in which to appeal the decision to the Environment Court.

Included in the comprehensive suite of conditions are the requirements to form a wastewater technical advisory group; prepare and implement an environmental management plan and construction management plan; provide landscaping in the first season after construction; and restrict noise to defined levels.

The commissioners found that the applications were consistent with the purpose of the Resource Management Act 1991. Potential adverse effects of operating a wastewater plant at Banks Street had been considered and addressed.

"There are also notable beneficial effects because the treatment plant will substantially improve the wastewater discharge, provide a resource for future generations and function as part of the overall wastewater treatment scheme that is acting to address the wide-level, community concern with the discharge of milliscreened wastewater into Poverty Bay.

"These proposals will enable people to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing, and for their health and safety by the provision of a wastewater treatment scheme designed to service the community and future population and economic growth of Gisborne. 

"The applicant has sought to recognise and provide for the interests of Māori in these respects through the consultation process and a process that sees it committed to on-going investigations and technological improvements with a view to the eventual cessation of the discharge to sea." 

Environment and planning manager Hans van Kregten, says the result was an excellent example of the community and the unitary authority working together to achieve a pragmatic, considered outcome.