Woman denied chance to speak

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2013

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Environmental campaigner Sarah Roberts is upset at the Taranaki Regional Council for shunning her at a meeting yesterday.

The potential council candidate turned up at its consents and regulatory committee meeting, hoping to share her thoughts on several agenda items.

However, she was not given permission to speak.

Legally, people wanting to speak must put their names forward for consideration by the chief executive and council chairman at least two days before the meeting.

Despite not having done this, Ms Roberts felt she should have been given the green light.

"I am seriously disappointed I was not allowed to submit."

TRC corporate services director Mike Nield said Ms Roberts would have been welcome to speak had she followed correct protocols.

"She has done this on a number of occasions, which we find frustrating. Nobody can just rock ‘n' roll up to the meeting and expect to speak. She arrived unannounced and expected that."

Mr Nield also said a member of the public was not able to attend meetings and continually say the same thing.

"You're not allowed to be repetitious, nor are you allowed to be offensive. Quite frankly, on both accounts, she comes very close."

Ms Roberts felt the seven public agenda items were skimmed over at the meeting, which took just 25 minutes. One item stated there had been 48 incidents reported to the council between May 24 to June 30 - 13 relating to air, 31 relating to water and four relating to land.

There were 630 incidents in total for the 2012-2013 year, which was 62 more than the previous year.

Yesterday's reports included an infringement notice served to Port Taranaki which required extensive work to prevent recurrence, and an infringement notice for BTW land farming at Brown Rd, Waitara, for not operating within its resource consents.

"No incidents were discussed," Ms Roberts said. "If I was a councillor, I may have asked what the extensive actions at Port Taranaki were going to be to ensure no recurrence of the non-compliant incidents, or how the Taranaki Regional Council might be supporting BTW in improving their compliance with consent conditions."

The meeting also touched on a review carried out by GNS Science about the regulation of deep well injection.

TRC resource management director Fred McLay said GNS gave the council its tick of approval, but also outlined improvements that would better its monitoring process.

"At the moment our area of interest is based on a case-by-case assessment, and they're saying perhaps we should cover a one kilometre or 2km radius around the well site."

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Ms Roberts had planned to touch on this report in her submission. "I had a number of issues I wished to raise . . . and believe I have a democratic right to be able to do so."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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