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Published: 2002-03-05 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has granted resource consents for a residential subdivision near Huka Falls Rd in Taupo.

River Glen Developments had applied for consents for 44 residential lots near Huka Falls Rd and Hindmarsh Drive. Application for a land use consent was made to Taupo District Council and applications for stormwater discharge, works on the bank and riverbed of the Waikato River and earthworks in a high risk erosion area to Environment Waikato.

Thirteen submissions were lodged with Taupo District Council and four with Environment Waikato.

The applicant intends to subdivide about 6.5 hectares of pasture land to provide an urban development, construct a stormwater management system and outfall structure, and re-contour the existing land. The two authorities were making separate decisions on the consents required.

The developer expressed a desire to work with Taupo District Council and Environment Waikato to get the most suitable stormwater system in place to protect the quality of the Waikato River. Discussions were continuing with submitters and Council officers to further minimise the risk of contaminants entering the river from the access road runoff.

The development is to be staged and may take a number of years before full residential subdivision is completed.

Submitters were concerned about the unique value of the extremely high water quality in the area, and that the existing character of the area would be detrimentally affected by such a high density subdivision.

One submitter said that as the section of the river was one of the least modified, it was worthy of protection above other stretches of the river. Any adverse effects on the water would affect recreational use and fishery values.

Staff said expert opinion was that the stormwater system could be engineered to operate without unnecessary risk of material failure. A stringent monitoring programme was however recommended to ensure the system would perform in trapping and containing sediment and contaminants, and reducing the velocity of stormwater discharged during extreme storms.

The Committee said there was potential for effects from sediment during site preparation, which needed to be monitored. The Committee understood the need to protect the Waikato River, but considered it unreasonable to require the applicant to discharge all stormwater to land, given the volume stormwater flowing onto the site from neighbouring catchments.

The Committee considered that the development should meet the same standards as Taupo’s comprehensive stormwater consent process. The applicant should undertake an investigation in alternative discharge structures for each outlet to slow water velocity and reduce erosion.

Based on the applicant’s ability to avoid contamination of the river, and the location where the stormwater would be discharged, overall any adverse effects would be no more than minor, it said.