Controversial environmental plan back in court
The latest battle about the contentious One Plan will head to court next week.
Environmental lobby groups Fish and Game and the Environmental Defence Society will square off against Horizons Regional Council in the Wellington District Court in a hearing starting on Monday.
The environmental groups are unhappy about the way the One Plan – which aims to manage freshwater, air and land quality in Manawatu and Whanganui – has been applied by officials, saying enforcement has been patchy.
Mediation between the parties proved unsuccessful, so the matter will move into the courtroom – the first time the One Plan has seen judicial oversight since it was adopted in November 2014.
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The One Plan regulates the amount of sediment and nitrogen entering waterways from farms and utilities, including district council sewerage plants.
It took 10 years of consultation, legal battles and rewrites before the plan was signed off in 2014, but it has since been faulted by the environment groups, which disagree with the way the plan is being interpreted.
The organisations claim there were failures in the plan's enforcement.
In September 2016, Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon was disappointed the plan was heading back to court and said Fish and Game was not open to mediation.
At the time, Fish and Game Wellington manager Phil Teal said the group was keeping all options open, such as mediation.
"We were seeking transparency on how things were being implemented for quite some time.
"Hopefully, we'll be on the same page on where we are moving toward," Teal said.
The hearing had cost taxpayers about $70,000 so far, Horizons strategy and regulation group manager Dr Nic Peet said.