Most consent hearings able to continue at ES

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MOST Environment Southland (ES) consent hearings, on pause because of the Covid-19 situation, can now continue at Alert Level 2.

At the ES council meeting last week, ES policy, planning and regulatory services general manager Vin Smith said the nature of the hearing would dictate the appropriate alert level at which a hearing could take place.

“With respect to many of the hearings, they will recommence at Level 2, due to the nature of technology at this point and the community of interest.

“Some hearings, where the nature of the evidence or the type where a submitter seeks to provide evidence, may mean that they can’t effectively be held at Level 2 then we’ll have to wait till Level 1.”

Nine of the 72 consent hearings submitted to council were publicly notified and had been put on hold.

The nine included two applications from the Fiordland Trails Trust to modify a wetland to construct a walking and cycle trail, and modify a wetland and divert groundwater and surface water; one from Alliance Group Ltd to discharge treated meatworks wastewater and condenser cooling water to the Mataura River; and another from Real Journeys Ltd to carry out commercial activities in a coastal marine area.

In his report submitted to the council, ES chief executive Rob Phillips said progress on all nine applications had been halted and timeframes xtended due to special circumstances.

“The notified process is founded on public participation and hearings of applications being conducted in public. Currently, a public process cannot be delivered. We are awaiting advice on this matter signalled from the Ministry for the Environment.”

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