Greater Wellington’s role in consenting process for Masterton’s Henley Lake
The future of Masterton’s Henley Lake is being discussed with submissions to Masterton District Council (MDC) for their annual district plan closing on April 20.
The lake is currently fed water through a water race from the Ruamahanga River which is allowed through a resource consent granted by Greater Wellington Regional Council, however this consent has expired and MDC are currently looking at their options for the replacement consent.
Greater Wellington Environmental Regulation Manager Shaun Andrewartha says the current framework for dealing with this issue is set out in the regional council’s Proposed Natural Resources Plan (PNRP) – the decision for which was released by independent commissioners in 2019.
“The PNRP followed a decade of community engagement across the region and input from a wide range of people and interests. It sets the framework for when and how people can take water from our rivers.
“This framework makes for complex consenting issues to work through if MDC want to continue taking water from the river during times of ‘low flow’ when the river is under significant stress,” Shaun says.
As well as having stakeholder and community involvement, the framework is also driven by Central Government direction, in particular the Resource Management Act and National Policy Statements such as that for freshwater management which seeks to protect the quality and quantity of water in our streams and rivers.
“We have seen the number $600,000 in relation to consenting fees, however, this figure has not come from Greater Wellington.
“Greater Wellington consenting fees, for a publically notified consent, are $23,000 initially up to the point of hearing and then a further $23,000 for a hearing of less than five days. Fees and costs are based on the time we need officers and technical experts to spend assessing impacts, and the work of the hearing commissioners.
“If taking water during low flows is removed from the proposal, this could potentially be a non-notified consent process – for which the fee is between $1,000 and $2,000.”
Shaun says if MDC want to take water from the river during low flows it is likely to be a publicly notified consenting process where the community will get to have their say and the environmental effects will be fully considered.