I believe the HB Regional Council has persistently bungled its stewardship of the Bay’s water.
However, while not budging from that view, I want to acknowledge an excellent effort on the part of HBRC to engage the public around its current ‘work-in-progress’ planning regarding clean-up of the Taharua and Upper Mohaka Rivers.
This outreach has all the right elements …
1. A frontline stakeholders group is wrestling with the issues at hand in the catchment and seeking a way forward.
2. A broader group of interested parties has been directly contacted by an informative email that updated us on where this process stands, the basics of a proposed strategy, where to find pertinent information online, and where/how to respond. Someone took the trouble to identify and reach out to specific individuals in the wider community who might have a special interest in the matter at hand.
3. A comprehensive web page for the project (see here) makes available the draft strategy document, links to nearly twenty background and technical papers that have informed the process, online submission capability, and direct contact information for all the key staff players involved.
4. The project and strategy is outlined in a two-page spread in the HBRC’s current newsletter, Our Place, sent to all ratepayers.
It’s hard to imagine what more an interested citizen could ask for … insofar as the consultation process is concerned.
So, for that, the Regional Council earns an A+ score!
It just might be that someone at HBRC has discovered an old and wise political maxim: Don’t offend in style, when you can offend in substance. In other words: if you’re considering a policy someone might not like, don’t inflame the wound and intensify opposition by making the decision in a manner that ignores or derides their views (or even their opportunity to sound off).
That’s the A+ news.
The D- news is that the draft strategy, in the face of undisputed degradation of the two rivers, proposes to deal with the problem at a glacial pace. In other words, the Council is heading toward offending conservationists in substance.
Although better managed in its delivery, it’s still the same old story from this Regional Council. Spare no effort to placate economic interests (in this case a handful of dairy farmers in the upper catchment); and make as little effort, as slowly as possible, to redress the environmental harm they are causing. In this case, take fifteen years to restore healthy rivers, with ten years for landowners to make the necessary changes.
More from Baybuzz on the substance of the strategy will follow. Meantime, use the resources HBRC has provided to get informed. The consultation process closes August 22nd.