Council lodges submission on salmon farms

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 11:30 23/04/2012
Protest
CAPITAL IDEA: Clare Pinder, Green Party fisheries spokesman Steffan Browning and Guardians of the Sounds member Martin Pinder in front of the protest billboard.

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King Salmon's application to farm in areas where salmon farming is banned should be rejected, the Marlborough District Council says.

The council lodged its submission to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) on Friday. Submissions to the EPA are open until May 2, and anyone can make a submission.

A board of inquiry will consider an application from King Salmon to build nine new salmon farms, three in Queen Charlotte Sound and six in Pelorus Sound. Several are planned in an area where salmon farming is not permitted under the council's Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan.

Council environment committee chairman Peter Jerram said the council was not opposed to salmon farming, but it has areas specifically zoned for this type of marine farming and King Salmon is seeking approval to establish farms outside those areas.

Mr Jerram said the council's submission identified two key issues with the proposal: the precedent-setting impact of granting this application and the effect that it would have on the existing provisions of the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan managing marine farming.

The council was opposing the King Salmon application because it would set a precedent for other applicants seeking private plan changes in the Sounds, which would lead to an undesirable ad hoc approach to planning, he said.

The council has concerns that the proposed plan changes would provide solely for King Salmon without giving full consideration to the broader format and workability of the Sounds plan, he said.

"That represents an inefficient and inappropriate approach to any review of the balancing of competing interests."

The submission said the existing provisions of the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan could already accommodate more salmon farms in suitable parts of the Sounds. There was space still available in areas set aside for aquaculture activities.

King Salmon could have applied for resource consent to convert existing mussel farms into salmon farms, as other organisations had done. This did not need a plan change.

The council submission says the King Salmon proposal relies on economic benefits as part of the justification for the plan changes. "However, those economic benefits may not directly accrue to Marlborough, particularly if the processing facilities are not located in Marlborough."

The submission says the EPA process means the council does not have the usual regulatory role in considering and making decisions on the plan changes and resource consent applications.

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"The council finds itself in the unusual role of being a submitter on the proposal, and will appear at the forthcoming hearing in that capacity. However, the council remains open to receiving further information and engaging in discussions and expert caucusing on the areas of concern."

- The Marlborough Express

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