Sustainable management and conditions to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects on the environment under the RMA is an important aspect of the branch’s work e.g. the renewal of Trustpower’s Matahina dam consent where extensive fish passage conditions have been imposed.
The branch puts in a lot of effort to secure sound district and regional plan provisions, especially those affecting indigenous biodiversity and landscapes and environmental sustainability. The current focus is the Whakatane District Plan and the controversial intention to build a marine precinct at the head of the Orini Stream which would obliterate significant saltmarsh, and the Proposed Bay of Plenty Regional Coastal Environment Plan.
The Rangitaiki River is also a significant focus as catchment planning is undertaken. The LAWA website www.lawa.org.nz is showing increased nitrogen and turbidity at Murupara, likely attributable to land use intensification in the upper catchment, and turbidity and bacteria levels at Te Teko being in the bottom 50% of equivalent sites, and the bottom 25% for nitrogen and phosphorus.
Several years ago Branch action stopped the building of an eight storey building at Whakatane Heads which would have seriously impacted on the outstanding landscapes of Kohi Point and the Piripai Spit. The Court awarded the branch significant costs which the developer, Robert Power, has yet to pay.