MOU brings improved efficiency to Ruapehu environmental management

Protecting the quality of Ruapehu’s air, land and water just got a boost with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Ruapehu District Council (RDC) and Horizons Regional Council.

Under the MOU Ruapehu compliance officers are now contracted to provide the ‘on the ground’ response to any air quality complaints and issues associated with the dumping of refuse, dead stock and abandoned vehicles in riverbeds within Ruapehu District boundaries.
Ruapehu Group Manager Community Services Margaret Hawthorne said that while Horizons still has the legislated responsibility for managing the district’s air, land and water resources the MOU will mean a more timely response is possible if a site visit is required from a compliance officer.
“People wanting to report issues from burning fires or pollution threats to land or rivers and streams will still need to call Horizons in the first instance,” she said.
“Horizons will qualify the call and decide if an on the ground response is required from a compliance officer.
“If Horizons deem a site visit is required, they will request that RDC’s Ruapehu based compliance officers attend the incident.
“The RDC compliance officers attending the callout will manage the event to stop, or prevent any further nuisance or damage being caused and collect any evidence if required.
“All the information collected, including any evidence, will be sent on to Horizons who makes any decisions about what happens next including whether to prosecute or not.”
Mrs Hawthorne noted that community education is an important part of the MOU.
“As with the all RDC compliance activities education is the preferred approach in the first instance,” she said.
Horizons strategy and policy group manager Dr Nic Peet says the primary purpose of the MOU is to enable a more rapid response to incidents.
“Our staff will still undertake planned inspections of consented activities in the Ruapehu District, such as vegetable washers, wastewater treatment plants and farm effluent,” says Dr Peet.
“Any decisions relating to enforcement action will also be made by Horizons.”
Mrs Hawthorne says both RDC and Horizons are excited about the benefits this arrangement will bring to the protection of Ruapehu’s environment.
“As a district with an economy built on, and around, its natural resources the MOU helps brings the compliance end of environmental management closer together between Ruapehu’s two territorial authorities.”
Horizons 24/7 pollution hotline and free phone number is 0508 800 800.