Bay of Plenty Regional Council has promised to actively engage with the community over draft nitrogen rules but some small block owners are concerned “nothing will change”.
Regional council chief executive Mary-Anne Macleod told landowners they could expect total transparency and active engagement moving forward.
Ms Macleod said she would also look into specific concerns landowners had expressed about council staff, regarding conflicts of interest, and reassured residents the draft rules had not been predetermined.
The regional council’s declaration of commitment follows action taken by a group of small block owners last month to have one of New Zealand’s most high-profile lawyers, Mai Chen represent them.
Ms Macleod met Ms Chen yesterday to discuss key concerns about the draft nitrogen rules and how the concerns would be addressed.
At a public meeting in the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, Rotorua residents were invited to hear the outcome of Ms Macleod and Ms Chen’s meeting, and ask questions.
Ms Chen said she hoped the meeting would be a turning point where the “relationship between the regional council and landowners is put on a different footing”.
“It is understandable that tempers have run high and there has been a lot of frustration because this land is your livelihood but it is vital that there is professional engagement from both parties,” she said.
Many landowners expressed their concerns, saying they had been getting mixed messages about the rules and questioned the council’s commitment to the engagement processes.
Rotorua’s Sheryl Parnwell, who owns a lifestyle block just under 5ha, said her questions about the draft rules had not been answered in the past and she was worried it would be the same this time around.
Draft Nitrogen Rules
* Copies of the proposed draft rules and permitted stocking tables are available. These have changed in response to feedback received last year, with fewer properties requiring
consent under the proposed rules
* Consultation has been ongoing for more than 12 months and opportunities for feedback continue, with further ‘drop in days’ on September 16, 12pm to 4pm and September 17, 2pm to 7pm at BOPRC offices in Te Arawa St
* The council is keen to meet any groups upon request with a view to receiving further feedback throughout September to help refine the proposed rules
* If you would like to know what your Nitrogen Discharge Allowance might be, call 0800 884 880 and ask for the Rotorua Advice and Support Service