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Call for wastewater rethink

The former Featherston golf course. PHOTO/FILE

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Purchase of the Featherston Golf Course does not appear to be a silver bullet for the town’s wastewater woes.

South Wairarapa District Council is continuing with a contentious wastewater irrigation plan for Featherston despite major opposition from residents.

And councillor Ross Vickery believes the council should re-think its plans.

The council bought the Featherston Golf Club land for “five per cent above” the rateable value of $1,020,000, with the idea that the 32-hectare block could be used for irrigation, alleviating the need for other sites.

Before the purchase, the council applied to the Greater Wellington Regional Council for a resource consent to discharge Featherston’s effluent to Hodder Farm on Murphy’s Line and land on Longwood [West and East] Rd.

This proposal has proved unpopular with nearby residents, with more than 150 submissions opposing the idea because of concerns about possible impacts on health, property values, and the high water table.

But the consent process is continuing and has already cost $700,000. Hearings are due to be held in March.

Findings from a desktop study showed the golf club land was suitable for irrigation, but not to the same quality as land at Hodder Farm. For every hectare of land designated for irrigation, 2.5ha of golf club land would be required.

Councillors were told when considering the golf course purchase that some Hodder Farm block would still be required for irrigation.

Vickery said the newly purchased land “adds flexibility to the contested and difficult issues” surrounding the proposal.

“I would like to see a full reassessment of the wastewater plan, notwithstanding the resource consent application that’s under way.”

He said the land at Hodder Farm was desirable for low density residential development and the plan to see it used for irrigation made no sense, due to its proximity to neighbours.

“I think if the Longwood Rd East land was sold at market value, it would enable us to look realistically at higher rate treatment for the wastewater, with a view of discharging it to a lesser area of land.”

Vickery said it was good the council now had the golf course land at its disposal.

“It gives the council flexibility and options, which I think could potentially lead to a far better environmental and social solution.”

Councillor Lee Carter submitted against the council’s resource consent application, so she abstained from voting on whether the council would make an offer on the golf course.

“I commend councillors for taking the initiative to create an opportunity to put things right for the people of Featherston.

“It was a courageous move to override the advice of the SWDC [officers].”

Councillor Colin Olds supported the purchase, saying the golf course bordered the land proposed for wastewater irrigation.

“If following detailed analysis, the golf course land is found to be suitable for discharge, this may alleviate the need to discharge treated wastewater on the eastern side of Murphy’s Line.”

A separate resource consent will have to be lodged if the council decides to use the golf course for wastewater irrigation.

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