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Extension approved in principle for Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora

Approval in principle has been given to an extension to the timeline of a key project designed to better protect the Waikato and Waipa rivers.

At its latest meeting, the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora committee endorsed the idea of a regional plan change for the rivers going to the council early next year, with public notification soon after, instead of the original date of November this year.

The extension is designed to help ensure the project’s Collaborative Stakeholder Group (CSG) has all the information it needs to be able to recommend a plan change under the Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/Wai Ora: He Rautaki Whakapaipai process.

The committee heard that CSG members were concerned that under the original timeline they would not have enough time to assess all relevant information and consult with their sectors about the way ahead before public notification.

The Technical Leaders Group advising the CSG had said it needed more time to complete the science to fill existing information gaps. This included information on the amount of nitrogen due to come into the rivers from groundwater, and the time that it takes the nitrogen to travel.

Notification early next year “provides a more realistic timeframe for the CSG to undertake meaningful discussions with their sectors on the opportunities and constraints of the limit and target scenarios”, a report to the committee said. The committee will look at formally endorsing the extension at its next meeting.

The report said the timeframe extension could be accommodated within the existing project budget.

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