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Published: 2003-09-25 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is taking over moorings in Lake Taupo.

The Council this week proposed a variation to the Waikato Regional Plan section dealing with moorings in Lake Taupo to identify zoned mooring areas and provide flexibility outside zoned areas. The variation is open to public submissions until mid January next year.

The Department of Internal Affairs has managed moorings at Taupo in conjunction with Tuwharetoa, which owns the Lake bed. The regulations expire in June next year and Environment Waikato will manage environmental issues under the Resource Management Act while the Department will continue to be responsible for navigation safety issues.

Currently the Regional Plan would make new mooring applications a restricted discretionary activity and existing moorings a permitted activity, so that moorings could be applied for anywhere in the Lake with little control over the spread of new ones or management of existing ones.

Environment Waikato says this would not be effective management and making a change to the Plan would ensure consistency between navigation safety and RMA functions.

The Council has undergone consultation with Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board and the Department, and mailed a brochure to over 260 potential stakeholders asking for their views. Public meetings were also held.

Most participants felt some control was needed but did not want further cost or bureaucracy. They also did not see a need for resource consents as well as permits, and were keen to see moorings confined to existing areas.

The variation identifies zoned mooring areas in existing accepted areas and flexibility for moorings outside zoned areas. Mooring holders will still need to obtain a permit from the Department, which will control the number based on navigation safety issues. The variation also provides for existing public moorings which are outside zoned areas as a permitted activity.

A full public process would be needed to determine if a new area was appropriate, and they could be declined if there were significant effects. Other areas prohibit moorings to protect places reserved for other Lake users.