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Opposition growing

Support continues to build for alternatives to the proposed Te Anau wastewater scheme at Manapouri, with a public meeting held last week as the current consent was about to expire.

The 10-year consent for the Southland District Council to discharge Te Anau’s effluent to the Upukerora River expired last Wednesday, but district mayor Gary Tong said it had been automatically extended.

Environment Southland resource management planner Roy Hammond confirmed that section 124 of the Resource Management Act allowed SDC to continue discharging to the Upukerora lawfully.

“We have an application in to seek a replacement permit. Because it was lodged more than six months in advance of the expiry date the applicant benefits from continuance rights,” Mr Hammond said.

Mr Tong was one of more than 100 people at a public meeting in Te Anau last week organised by Fiordland Sewage Options, a group advocating alternatives to the proposed discharge of effluent to the Kepler Block near Te Anau Airport Manapouri.

The consent for the Manapouri scheme was currently before an independent commission and there was still potential for alternatives to be considered after its verdict, he said.

“Certainly it’s not off the books. We’ve got to wait until we’ve heard from the commissioners.”

“Whether it’s a yes or a no [from the commission], both sides have got an opportunity to appeal, and obviously if it’s going to be a yes I would suspect there’s going to be conditions,” he said. “You can guarantee those conditions will come at a cost, whether with staff time or with scientific evidence.”

Alternatives were discussed at the meeting, but mostly around the initial treatment of wastewater and not what was done with it, Mr Tong said.

“The big issue is once it’s treated we still have to find somewhere to put it.”

Fiordland Sewage Options chairman Alistair Paton-McDonald said local treatment was the most important issue.

“It doesn’t matter where it goes, it needs to be further treated here before it goes anywhere,” he said. “In the last 10 years there’s been huge advancements in waste management.”

The group wanted SDC’s replacement permit for the Upukerora discharge to be notified so that the whole process could be discussed by the public, Mr Paton-McDonald said.

It was difficult to make meaningful submissions on the Kepler Block consent to the commission because they had to address specific scientific details and not the overall process, he said.

The hearing commission on that consent application is due to reconvene on November 17, having requested additional information from SDC at the first hearing in July.

“The next step is to put submissions in for the re-hearing. The problem is it has to be pertaining exactly to the new information that’s been gained; we can’t go back and renew other issues.”

Fiordland Sewage Options membership was now more than 500 and growing, picking up another 40 or 50 members from the meeting, Mr Paton-McDonald said.

“We’re getting people from out of the district now,” he said. “We need to get the word out there that it’s not a Manapouri-run organisation.”

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