Hazards laws are enough - Alliance

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 08/07/2014

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Plans to limit the amount of hazardous substances on industrial sites are unwarranted, the Alliance Group says.

Mitchell Partnerships environmental consultant John Kyle, speaking on behalf of Alliance, addressed the Southland District Council's resource management hearing for the proposed plan in Invercargill yesterday.

The existing plan had no limits and the proposed limits were too low, Kyle said.

Alliance already complied with the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, which has stringent regulations including limits for the amount of substances which can be stored on site, he said.

"Significant caution is built into the HSNO regulations to ensure that the risk to human health, wellbeing and the environment is extremely low," he said.

The council had not provided enough evidence to justify the additional costs of duplicating the controls on handling, storage, and use of hazardous substances in the district, he said.

The proposed limits were also far lower than the amounts of hazardous substances Alliance already stored on their Makarewa and Lorneville sites, he said.

While protected by the Resource Management Act's existing use rights, if Alliance chose to expand its plants it would trigger the need for resource consent, Kyle said.

However, council environmental health manager Michael Sarfaiti defended the proposed limits.

"Council used one of the leading experts from HSNO [while forming the proposed plan] ... he said we need triggers for industrial sites such as Alliance."

Council resource management planner Simon Moran said, "The reasons the limits were promoted were specifically for safety of surrounding communities."

The location of the Alliance Group plants at Makarewa and Lorneville meant there would not be a significant impact on surrounding communities, he said.

The district plan hearings are expected to end today.

Submitters expected to speak at today's hearing include Jet Boating New Zealand Inc, West Catlins Preservation Inc, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, and Landcorp Farming Ltd.

The hearings have been going on since March. The resource management committee is expected to release their decisions on the plan by November.

NEGATIVE IMPACT OF GRAZING RULE FEARED

A rule preventing stock from grazing in areas of native vegetation will have a negative impact on Southland farmers, Federated Farmers say.

Federated Farmers representative Tanith Robb spoke to the Southland District Council's resource management committee at a hearing for the proposed district plan yesterday.

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The federation wants the word "grazing" removed from the definition of "clearance, modification or removal of indigenous vegetation", she said. "As increasing amounts of ... land is being used for dairy farm operations, sheep and beef farmers are ... having to rely upon semi-developed tussock or scrub country within their land. By removing that capacity, there will be considerable negative repercussions to those farming operations."

Federated Farmers recommended the council change the definition to allow grazing in areas containing "non-significant indigenous vegetation".

"If the definition is not changed, there will be considerable negative impacts on the economic and social wellbeing of farmers ..." Robb said.

Committee chairman Paul Duffy said the Resource Management Act protected existing use rights, and asked if that was enough to allay Federated Farmers' concerns.

Robb said it could be difficult for farmers to prove they had existing use rights, and the federation preferred the council provided reasonable rules in the district plan without needing to rely on those rights.

- The Southland Times

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