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Nature Calls consultation extended to 5pm on Friday 10 July

Monday June 29 2020

Residents will now have more time to have their say on the city’s biggest financial and environmental decision for many years, with consultation being extended until early July.

Nature Calls is focused on determining the best practicable option for treating the city’s wastewater for up to the next 35 years.

Currently, the city’s wastewater is treated for around four days before being discharged into the Manawatū River. But our consent is ending soon, and we need to apply for a new one by mid-2022.

Six options for how we could do this in the future are currently being consulted on. Consultation began in early June and was scheduled for the month.

More than 300 submissions have been received so far.

More information to be released

During the consultation, some residents have asked for more information about the environmental impact of the options. The environmental impact won’t be fully understood until the treatment level is determined, locations chosen and more scientific investigations take place. As part of the resource consent application, we’ll also be required to undertake an Assessment of Environmental Effects.

At this stage we're working with information we've gathered from expert knowledge, and building on this as we progress through to a preferred option. We are going to do very detailed work next year on the preferred option, which is when we prepare the assessment.

On Thursday night, new information will be added to naturecalls.nz to explain how we narrowed down the selection of potential options from 36 to six.

Palmerston North City Council Chief Infrastructure Officer, Tom Williams says many of the options didn’t make it to the consultation stage due to the large costs, or because they wouldn’t meet other public health, cultural, environmental or recreational standards. These options were given a fatal flaw status.

“This information may help people understand how we narrowed down the options. We don’t expect this additional information will sway people’s views, but those who’ve already made submissions will be able to make a new submission if the information does impact their earlier thoughts. We will be emailing those who’ve made submissions to let them know about the extra information.”

Those who've already made a submission, and want to alter it, are asked to please fill in a new submission form at naturecalls.nz or the written form from the consultation guide which can be found at all the city's libraries, or our customer service centre. When the new submission is received we will be able to update the feedback.

Consultation extended

The consultation was scheduled to end at 5pm on 30 June, but we’re now extending that until 5pm on Friday 10 July.

Mr Williams says this is because it’s the most important project we need our residents to have their say on.

“We need to get as much feedback as possible, and we are aware some residents have not received consultation material in their letterboxes. That has been remedied, with most homes now having received consultation material over the past few days.”

The consultation material is all online at naturecalls.nz and at all of our public libraries. People can also ring the council call centre to request a consultation guide and it will be hand-delivered.

Additional meetings to be held

Two additional drop-in sessions will be held on Saturday 4 July to allow people to talk to the project team one-on-one. The team will be at the Ashhurst Library from 10am to 11am and then the Central Library from 11.30am to 12.30pm. Ashhurst is having a second drop-in session as that is the area most affected by not getting consultation material.

An option will be selected later in the year

In early August we will let residents know the key findings of the consultation. This information will be on naturecalls.nz, Council's Facebook page, released to media, and emailed to everyone who makes a submission.

In December, the consultation feedback will be presented to Council alongside technical reports focused on a range of environmental, social, economic and cultural factors. Elected members will then choose which option to proceed with for a resource consent.