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Published: 2004-07-21 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has granted resource consent for earthworks and vegetation clearance associated with a proposed new subdivision at Lake Taupo.

Land use consent for the 36 town house development, known as Watermark Apartments, has been declined by Taupo District Council following the joint hearing. The District Council said the development was planned for an extremely sensitive and significant landscape area.

The subdivision was planned for a high erosion risk area of 0.86 hectares on Norman Smith Street adjacent to the Waikato River arm of the lake. It attracted 191 submissions to Taupo District Council and 24 submissions to Environment Waikato.

The applicant had accepted all the conditions Environment Waikato proposed as appropriate to the activity. The applicant agreed to contain all stormwater onsite using cut-off drains, retention ponds and soakage trenches. The proposed stormwater system had been designed to contain stormwater from a 10-year storm or a larger 50 year storm, if such an event occurred during the four month construction period.

Submitters opposed to the application were concerned about the effect of stormwater discharges on river and lake water quality during the construction period.

In making its decision, Environment Waikato’s Hearing Committee said it was required to restrict consideration to the effects of earthworks and vegetation clearance in a high risk erosion area. Any consideration of the final use of the site or the proposed building design was outside the scope of its decision.

The Hearing Committee considered that a strict monitoring and maintenance regime would have to be adhered to for the proposed environmental management plan to work effectively.

The consultation undertaken was appropriate and recognised local iwi’s kaitiakitanga role in the management of Lake Taupo’s bed and banks. The Committee noted that for the applicant to undertake addition planned works on the lake margin would require obtaining the approval of the legal landowners, Ngati Tuwharetoa.

The Committee said Lake Taupo was a natural treasure and protection of its water quality was a priority resource management issue for Environment Waikato, key environmental agencies and the local community. The Committee considered that if the proposed earthworks were conducted in accordance with recommended conditions, the environmental effects would be no more than minor.