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Published: 2001-06-07 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has declined one consent and granted five others retrospectively for work already done to create 25 ponds on the Whangamarino wetland.

But Hearings Commissioners said if a consent had been applied for to clear the vegetation to create the ponds, it would have been declined.

Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game Council applied to Environment Waikato and Waikato District Council for consents for works done in the Cocks Block, where 25 ponds and connecting drains, culverts and tracks were constructed. The applications attracted 19 submissions from neighbours, the Ornithological Society, Central Eel Enhancement Company, Franklin Forest and Bird, Tranzrail, Federated Farmers, Waikato District Council and the Land Air Water Association.

Fish and Game Council manager Doug Emmett outlined the manner in which the works were undertaken and discussed concerns about flooding of adjoining landowners and Tranzrail’s submission. He expressed concern about recommended conditions, including removal of non native trees which he said was impractical and unnecessary.

He considered conditions requiring monitoring of water levels to be extreme and without practical benefit, as monitoring for the Whangamarino weir was sufficient.

Submitters expressed concern about lack of consultation, effects of the weir, lead contamination, noise from shotguns and stopbank construction, increased insects and disease, stormwater discharges and drainage.

One submitter said the hearing process could have been bypassed if the applicant had spoken to neighbours and others involved.

Environment Waikato staff said that if application for the consent for works in the bed of the Whangamarino River had been made before the works were done, it would have recommended it be declined. There was a need for re-surveying the works, compaction and stabilisation of the stopbank and monitoring of water levels.

The Fish and Game Council replied that the works in the river bed were no more than minor and as the river was already sediment laden the consent should be granted and a precedent would not be set.

The Hearing Commissioners said the destruction of a pipi midden was undesirable and alternative source of materials were not used to construct the stopbank. It was not justified to create additional sediment discharges, or use material from the river. It would be sending a wrong message to retrospectively grant the consent for disturbing the river bed.

In granting the remaining consents the Commissioners said they were not in any way condoning the undertaking of works without consent.

Following a site visit they concluded the neighbouring properties were not necessarily adversely affected by the works, provided critical hydrological levels were sustained and all drains were well maintained.