Council process 'too slow'
New Zealand King Salmon could not wait for the Marlborough District Council to update its plans before applying for new farming space, lawyer Derek Nolan said in Blenheim yesterday.
King Salmon has applied to the Environmental Protection Authority for a private plan change and resource consents to develop nine new farms in the Marlborough Sounds. The board of inquiry hearing the application was due to make a final decision by December 31, but last week applied to extend its deadline by three months.
Council environmental policy manager Pere Hawes yesterday suggested that King Salmon could have worked with the council toward getting new areas for fish-farming through the plan renewal process.
Mr Nolan, who represents King Salmon, said this process would be too slow. It could be 2017 before updated plans became operative and the company could apply for space in areas where aquaculture was a limited discretionary activity. If anyone appealed, there could be another year to 18 months to wait.
"That's the alternative process facing anyone that wants space.".
Mr Hawes said the council would release draft new resource management plans by the end of July next year and notify them by September, before local body elections.
Mr Nolan said King Salmon environmental compliance manager Mark Gillard gave the council feedback on draft Marlborough Regional Policy Statement aquaculture provisions in November 2011 but had heard nothing since.
Mr Hawes said a marine focus group that was helping redraft aquaculture provisions stalled when King Salmon made its application. Progressing a parallel set of planning provisions would be difficult.
The prohibition on aquaculture was an efficient and effective way of prioritising cultural, recreational, natural character landscape and other values over marine farming so would probably remain after the plan review, Mr Hawes said.
Since King Salmon had made its application, two similar requests had been made to the council, Mr Hawes said. One party wanted to know about opportunities throughout the Sounds for marine farming and the other asked about altering zoning in Port Gore and two bays to the west.
Questioned by commissioner Edward Ellison, Mr Hawes said the difference of opinion between the Te Atiawa iwi authority and iwi whanau and individuals over the King Salmon application was a difficult issue for the board. The only guidance he could give was that the council regarded Te Atiawa generally as kaitiaki (caretakers) versus the iwi authority.
- The Marlborough Express