Call for talks on raising of stopbanks

By Laurel Stowell

3 comments
UNSTOPPABLE: The Whanganui River spilled over Anzac Pde stopbanks last June.
UNSTOPPABLE: The Whanganui River spilled over Anzac Pde stopbanks last June.

HORIZONS Regional Council has been asked to consult Whanganui people on whether to raise the height of the Anzac Pde stopbanks.

The request was part of Whanganui District Council's submission to Horizons' annual plan which mayor Annette Main presented on Wednesday.

"We didn't ask Horizons to increase stopbanks - we asked them to undertake the community engagement needed before a decision is made on whether to increase stopbank heights," Ms Main said.

"This would enable any decision to be included in the next annual plan."

In the wake of the June floods, the council also asked Horizons to this year undertake and fund the clearing of Matarawa Stream as it runs through Whanganui East. The clearing would be in advance of the process needed to add that area to an existing river scheme.

On the question of how much involvement Horizons should have with economic development, Whanganui council asked it to continue its role of co-ordinating Accelerate25, the action plan arising out of Government's Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Growth Study.

It wanted funding for this to come from Horizons' Centreport dividend, rather than rates.

Whanganui resident Nicola Patrick was also heard in a submission to the regional council's annual plan. Her response to Horizons' involvement in Accelerate25 was ... "yes, but ... ".

She's worried it will conflict with Horizons primary role - the sustainable management of natural resources.

Leading economic development could stop the council enforcing its own rules, Ms Patrick said, adding it was not clear how that conflict would be managed.

"It could indicate a desire to create jobs above environmental bottom lines."

For example, she said, the growth study talked of irrigation and increased dairying in Canterbury as a positive, without mentioning the resulting drop in water quality. It said long-term prospects for dairy farming were good - which she said was debatable given present low prices.

The study described Horizons' One Plan as initially being "an obstacle to intensification", but now - due to Horizons' "pragmatic approach" to its implementation - it was an "enabler".

Many consents were now being approved despite being outside One Plan limits, she said.

"It creates an unfair playing field for those farmers who have worked hard to adapt to the new limits." She noticed a recommendation in the study to change the One Plan to allow more nutrient leaching from coastal sand country.

Other aspects of the regional growth study which worried her were a suggestion mountain biking might be allowed within Tongariro National Park; the fact that arts was not mentioned as a tourist drawcard for Whanganui; and the dismissal of free range poultry and organic farming methods as fringe or "uncompetitive".

- Wanganui Chronicle

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