Plan hearings not user-friendly - Shaw
The Southland District Council has come under fire for the way it conducted its district plan hearings this week, with more than half the number of people expected to speak not bothering to turn up.
Just 13 of the 33 submitters who indicated they would speak at the meetings did so.
Submitters were told they could discuss only the points of their submissions that were about the natural features and landscapes part of the plan.
Any other topic, including the council's controversial proposed sewage scheme for Te Anau, was off limits.
Council staff acknowledged land marked for the proposed sewage scheme was designated as a wastewater treatment area in the proposed plan, but it would be discussed at an Environment Southland meeting with an independent commissioner.
That information was included in a letter sent to submitters, staff said.
However, Manapouri resident Shirley Mouat said she had not received the information.
"It would have been nice if I had been told about this beforehand." she said.
Southland Conservation Board chairman Viv Shaw said the way council had organised the hearings was not "user friendly".
Shaw also disapproved of council's decision to force submitters to attend several different meetings to cover all the points of their submissions by designating the hearings to cover certain sections of the proposed plan.
Te Anau farmer Murray Hagen said it was no wonder people had not attended the meetings, considering the restrictions council had placed on those wanting to speak.
On Monday, council resource management committee chairman, councillor Paul Duffy said the lack of submitter turnout was disappointing.
The district plan was reviewed only once every 10 years, and was a very involved process, he said.
Hearings on the proposed plan continue tomorrow at the district council office in Invercargill.
Hearings will continue until July, when the committee will begin deliberations.
The committee is aiming for decisions on the plan to be made by November.
The Southland Times