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Published: 2007-06-12 00:00:00

The Environment Court has granted a resource consent for the proposed upgrade of Whangamata’s wastewater treatment facility.

Earlier this year Environment Waikato granted a resource consent to Thames-Coromandel District Council to upgrade the plant to a system that would better manage seasonal population fluctuations.

However the consent was appealed by Clean Water Whangamata, the Surfbreak Protection Society and a number of Whangamata residents, due to concerns over potential environmental impacts associated with expanding the plant.

In a move to avoid a lengthy court process, Thames-Coromandel District Council, Environment Waikato and the community groups opposed to the plant entered into a mediation process in May.

The resulting agreed Memorandum of Understanding paved the way for the Environment Court to grant the necessary resource consent.

“The outcome of the MOU discussions resulted in some minor agreed changes to consent requirements, which enabled a consent order to be placed before the Environment Court for its consideration, thus avoiding the costs and delays associated with a three-week court hearing,” Environment Waikato utilities programme manager Hugh Keane said.

“The Environment Court has subsequently amended the resource consent as agreed to by all parties.

“We consider this an excellent outcome. It’s a win-win solution for the Whangamata Community that has been achieved thanks to the willingness of all parties to sit down together and resolve the issues constructively.”

The wastewater plant is being upgraded to a Sequential Batch Reactor system, designed to better manage seasonal population fluctuations in effluent volumes and to produce a higher quality of treated effluent prior to irrigation onto forestry land.