Councillor angry salmon farm report not released
Marlborough District Council environment committee chairman Peter Jerram is furious the council is suppressing a report relevant to a resource consent application by New Zealand King Salmon to change the way it monitors farm effects on the seabed.
The council ordered the review to check if changes in the weighting given to environmental measurements at Clay Point in Tory Channel and other farms influenced whether they met conditions.
But district council secretary Tony Quirk this week said the council would not make the report public because the information was commercially sensitive, technical and hard to understand.
NZ King Salmon has applied for a retrospective consent to increase feed levels at Clay Point between December 1, 2011, and November 30, 2013. If accepted, this would legalise over-feeding at the farm during the most recent monitoring period which made it non-compliant.
To offset the application, the company proposed reduced feeding at its Te Pangu farm on the opposite side of Tory Channel.
The Marlborough Express asked for a copy of the Black report on August 14 and was told the council would ask King Salmon's opinion on this request as a courtesy, not giving veto rights.
The council also refused Marlborough Sounds environmental group Sustain Our Sounds' request for the report.
However, Cr Jerram said he thought "where there is a publicly funded report which has an effect on a resource consent application, it should be released".
The council says it paid for the report by Professor Kenny Black, of the Scottish Association of Marine Science.
However, King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne says the company has a bill for the report and always paid for this type of review.
Sustain Our Sounds deputy chair and scientific adviser Rob Schuckard yesterday said he rejected the council's argument that the report might be misunderstood in isolation.
The group had scientific expertise and the report was publicly funded, so should be publicly available, he said.
The council was happy to release technical applications from King Salmon but less forthcoming with a report assessing the scientific rigor of monitoring by the Nelson-based Cawthron Institute for King Salmon, Mr Schuckard said.
"Withholding the information . . . is preventing the wider public from making meaningful submissions to pending applications by New Zealand King Salmon in the Tory Channel and other farms."
Submissions on King Salmon's application to increase feeding levels at Clay Point and change the way it monitors farm impacts on the seabed close on September 23.
- The Marlborough Express