30 November 2023
As previously reported, LRCA was actively involved with Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BoPRC), and Te Arawa Lakes Trust (TALT) in attempting to facilitate a mutually agreeable outcome for consent renewals for existing lake structures. Numerous previous updates recorded the extensive efforts made by the LRCA subcommittee through meetings and hui with BoPRC and TALT staff. Some progress was made with debating and agreeing in principle Conditions and Advice Notes that addressed some of the cultural and environmental concerns that TALT’s Cultural Mapping Report and it’s May 2022 Submission raised in response to the 295 limited-notified consent applications. As an example, retaining walls/erosion protection walls were one such area. Whilst not being totally resolved, it was generally agreed in principle that replacing walls when at the end of their life with ‘Habitat walls’, of a suitable design and if the site allowed that, would provide shelter for Koura, as an appropriate mitigation to address cultural concerns.
As recorded, it was disappointing that these discussions with TALT were unsuccessful in achieving agreement on the term for new consents. TALT preferred a 10-year term, and Applicants were requesting 30-year terms, which BoPRC indicated it also supported. At that point (November 2022) the LRCA subcommittee concluded its efforts in attempting to facilitate community-wide agreement, and a large group of applicants prepared for an Independent Commissioner hearing, as TALT wished to be heard. LRCA had no formal role in the Hearing, but individual members of the former subcommittee who were also applicants, provided considerable assistance to the structure owners to advance their case at the hearing.
A two-day hearing was conducted in Rotorua in late August before two Commissioners. Two groups of applicants had engaged Legal Counsel and a Planning Consultant, who provided written and oral submissions and expert evidence on day one. Over 120 applicants had lodged written evidence and around 30 presented verbally (in person or via Zoom) in support of their applications. This extensive evidence described in many cases deep multi-generational connections and a love for the lake, some back to the 1920’s. A great deal of history was revealed, including very close connections with Iwi in many cases, particularly in the early days.
TALT attended in person on day two and presented legal submissions but TALT did not file any evidence. The two staff members from TALT who were present were questioned on a number of points by the Commissioners.
The BoPRC Officer who had prepared the s42a pre-hearing report containing recommendations to Commissioners, then presented after hearing all the legal submissions and evidence and made several changes to her recommendations and advice to the Commissioners, including recommending a 30-year term for all limited-notified structures (including 50 previously unconsented structures that had been missed in the 2007/2008 consents, that some applicants sought to be included in their new consents). A Legal right of reply on behalf of applicants followed and the Commissioners closed the hearing.
The written decision was delivered in early September with a 30-year term granted for all limited-notified consents. The 15 working day appeal period passed on 4 October and no appeals were lodged.
The Commissioners clearly gave a good deal of thought into the Conditions and Advice Notes that will accompany the Consents (a single Consent will cover all structures under the same ownership).
The BoPRC patrol team have been travelling around the lake checking existing measurements of structures, which will be inserted into the Consent documents.
A group of applicants funded the main legal/planning work necessary to prepare for and present at the hearing, and a collection from other grateful applicants defrayed much of that cost. A number of that group very generously chose to donate some or all of their share of the fundraising to LRCA. Whilst no LRCA funds were expended on this exercise, a great deal of voluntary community work was undertaken.
BoPRC is now working on issuing 30-year consents to applicants who will undoubtedly be grateful to receive them, in particular to avoid having to repeat this exercise every ten years. The Consents will include a 10-year LINZ lease in relation to the Crown stratum, and where appropriate, a 10-year Right to Occupy licence for structures on, or partly on, District Council reserves. There are some on DoC land as well. These will all need to be renewed twice during the 30-year consent term. The 30 or so non-notified consent holders were invoiced the balance of the estimated $1,500 consent processing fee for simple cases. The fee will be higher for the more complex limited-notified applications and include the cost of the Commissioner Hearing. BoPRC have not yet calculated the fee, but the overall costs will be shared by 295 applicants.
This is the final report on Lake Structure Resource Consents, and LRCA wishes to acknowledge the considerable work undertaken, and the interactions with BoPRC and TALT staff.