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Independent commission for Te Anau sewerage scheme

An independent commission has been named to decide the fate of the Te Anau Wastewater Scheme at Manapouri, and a decision will be announced in early August.

At a consents committee meeting last month, Environment Southland appointed three commissioners to hear and decide an application by the Southland District Council for consents to discharge wastewater to land and air on a block north of Te Anau Airport Manapouri.

The discharge application has been notified and 150 submissions were received on the proposal, 138 of which were opposed to the scheme.

Environment Southland senior consents manager Roy Hammond said the hearing would be held in Te Anau and would be open to anyone.

“We notified the application, and only those people who expressed at that time that they wished to speak are permitted to speak at the hearing,” Mr Hammond sad.

Planning and resource management consultant and commission chairman Denis Nugent said they would spend at least two weeks preparing for the hearing.

“We will have read all the documentation of the application, all the submissions, and the council office’s reports, and all the expert evidence,” he said.

“We go into a hearing with an open mind, because the documentation we’ve read is really the background, and then it’s a matter of testing it.”

At the hearing, experts would be called and submitters would be entitled to legal representation, Mr Nugent said.

“Expert evidence is distinguished from other evidence because an expert, when giving evidence, is allowed to give their opinion.”

At the conclusion of the hearing, the commission would have 15 working days to make a decision on the scheme, he said.

Senior environmental engineer and technical commissioner Rob Potts said the decision would either be a decline, or a grant based on meeting a set of conditions.

“We do have some teeth; if we decline it, it’s declined,” he said.

Between now and the hearing, they would individually seek to identify flaws in the proposal, or major omissions from council discussions, Mr Potts said.

“From that we’ll usually form a set of questions that we may have at the hearing.”

The hearing will run from July 14 to 18 at the Distinction Te Anau Hotels and Villas.

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