Leaked report accessed by two council staff
Scottish fish farming expert Kenneth Black will be in Marlborough on December 7, at the invitation of the Marlborough District Council.
Council regulatory manager Hans Versteegh said the council would release a programme for his visit about November 22, in the agenda of an environment committee meeting.
The Marlborough Express would be invited to some of these events, Mr Versteegh said......
A council tracking system shows only two people opened a report by Scottish fish-farming scientist Kenneth Black that was leaked to environmental group Sustain Our Sounds, a council manager says.
Regulatory manager Hans Versteegh said the report sat on a council computer system accessible to any employee.
However, tracking showed only Mr Versteegh and compliance officer Steve Urlich accessed the file.
Mr Urlich was the author of an early assessment of whether New Zealand King Salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds met council consent conditions, responded to by Scottish Association for Marine Science principal scientist, Professor Black.
Council chief executive Andrew Besley might have seen a copy but he was not sure, Mr Versteegh said.
The document on the Sustain Our Sounds website appeared to be scanned from a printed copy but he had no idea who did this, he said.
The ombudsman's office recommended in mid-September that the council release a summary of the Black report to the Marlborough Express.
However, council secretary Tony Quirk refused, saying there could be adverse impacts on King Salmon as the picture presented was incomplete.
"The information involved is technical in nature and release in isolation could well lead to an incorrect interpretation," Mr Quirk said at the time.
Mr Versteegh yesterday stood by the council decision to withhold what he described as an early assessment of King Salmon compliance by officer Steve Urlich and draft response from Professor Black.
"Things have moved on," he said.
A final report would be released to the council environment committee and the public on November 22.
Sustain Our Sounds deputy chairman Rob Schuckard would not say whether he knew who leaked the report or whether it was done anonymously.
He said the council showed "muddled thinking" by advising its commissioner John Milligan to approve King Salmon's application to increase feed at its Clay Point farm in Tory Channel.
This was at odds with Mr Urlich's recommendation in the leaked report that feed be reduced, and that had been accepted by Professor Black, he said.
The Clay Point hearing, where King Salmon also applied to change its monitoring regime, was held in Blenheim early last month.
Professor Black said the Clay Point farm was the only one of the eight he considered which clearly breached its consent.
Mr Versteegh said someone had to look at the Clay Point application and review the science, which Professor Black had not done.
"The application has proceeded through a hearings process, not through a staff court," Mr Versteegh said.
He expected the Clay Point decision to be released today.
- The Marlborough Express