Proposed Awatarariki plan changes publicly notified
Proposed changes to the Whakatāne District Council’s District Plan and Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Regional Natural Resources Plan, which aim to address the unacceptably high debris flow loss-of-life risk applying to properties on the Awatarariki Stream fanhead in Matatā, have now been publicly notified.
To ensure that all interested parties have time to consider the plan change detail and prepare submissions, the Councils have extended the submission timeframe from the statutory 20 working days to 90 days.
All submissions and evidence presented will be heard by expert, independent commissioners, who will decide on the plan changes and any alterations required. Hearings are likely to be scheduled in early-2019, with decisions announced within two months. That would then be followed by an appeal period, a mediation process for any appeals lodged and, potentially, an Environment Court hearing.
The Matatā township (24 km west of Whakatāne) was struck by devastating debris flows in May 2005, following extremely heavy rainfall in the steep catchments behind the coastal town. The most destructive debris flow was from the Awatarariki Stream, at the western end of Matatā, which saw an estimated 300,000 cubic metres of rocks, wooden debris and mud flow through the urban area at the base of the catchment.
Homes and properties in the path of the debris flow were either destroyed or badly damaged and it was very fortunate that there were no fatalities.