Facebook icon Forward icon

Submissions close March 8, 2017

Waikato Regional Council is urging the public to step up and have their say on Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1.

The council has prepared its own submission on the proposed plan, and has received 280 submissions from the public to date.

Submissions on the proposed plan close at 5pm tomorrow. You can still make a submission by clicking this link here.

“Managing water quality in the Waikato and Waipā rivers is one of the biggest environmental issues facing our region. For the last two decades our community has told us water quality is their number one priority, now is their opportunity to have their say on the solutions proposed,” says council chief executive Vaughan Payne.

Mr Payne said no policy is perfect when it’s first notified and as with any policy development there are aspects of the proposed plan the council believes may need to be refined. We expect this to happen through the submission process.

The council submission takes into consideration how the plan can practically be implemented and enforced, how the plan affects the council as a land owner and key infrastructure provider, and how the proposed plan delivers on the regional council’s legal responsibilities for developing resource management policy for freshwater management.

“Our submission supports the overall intent and objectives of the proposed plan while making practical suggestions for improvements in how Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora could be implemented for affected landowners, while ensuring the protection and restoration of the Waikato and Waipā rivers into the future,” Mr Payne said

Key submission areas include the approach to nitrogen management, ownership of nitrogen reference points, including monitoring and enforceability, the implications of the current proposal on commercial vegetable production and addressing some inconsistencies in the proposed plan rules.

You can read all the recent media releases here.

Hauraki - partial withdrawal update

Recommendations relating to the partially withdrawn area of Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 are expected to be made by June 2017.

Waikato Regional Council and the Iwi of Hauraki are working together as part of an agreed consultation process.

“The focus for all parties is the health of our rivers and catchments. Our conversations with Pare Hauraki have been very positive and we’re committed to working together with the end goal of restoring and protecting the Waipā and Waikato rivers and catchments,” Regional Council Director of Science and Strategy, Tracey May, said.

“Pare Hauraki applauds Council for taking the respectful step of withdrawing part of the plan change to ensure our customary interests are recognised and our voices heard. Under our Treaty settlements, we will be co-governance partners with Council in a wide-ranging series of catchments around our rohe (mai Matakana ki Matakana) and the collaborative spirit of our work to date is a positive signal of what lies ahead of us “Chair of the Hauraki Collective, Paul Majurey, said.

The work of the Council and Pare Hauraki will incorporate their traditional knowledge (mātauranga) and ensure there is an increased awareness of mana whenua values and concerns, relating to the area in which the Iwi of Hauraki have centuries old  customary interests. It will also provide Pare Hauraki  with an enhanced understanding as to the rationale and reasons for a draft proposed plan change and provide the iwi the opportunity to participate in the policy development process, Ms May said.

The area of just over 120,000 hectares was withdrawn from the proposed plan change last December. The area includes the towns of Te Kauwhata, Meremere, Mercer, Pokeno, Waeranga and Maramarua, and key water bodies, including part of the main stem of the Waikato River, the Whangamarino Wetland, Maramarua River, Whangamarino River, Mangatawhiri River, Mangatangi Stream, Upper Mangatawhiri Reservoir and the Mangatangi Reservoir.

At this stage, recommendations relating to the withdrawn area are planned to be made to the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Committee in time to enable Council to incorporate any changes by June 2017.

Council will then re-notify that portion of the plan that has been withdrawn along with highlighting any changes. Council will also provide landowners in the area with information so they can also submit on the withdrawn area of the plan.

Ms May said the council intended to merge the two processes at the earliest possible opportunity, so that there is only one hearings and decisions process.

You can read more about that including a FAQ sheet here.

Industry schemes

We’ve been fielding a number of questions from landowners about the shape of industry led schemes under the proposed plan.
The implementation team are having ongoing discussions with industry sectors about what industry led schemes might look like. We’re also discussing what framework and training would be needed for certified Farm Environment Planners and nutrient advisors. This work will continue throughout this year. The implementation team will be meeting with industry representatives over the next few weeks to present the implementation plan and discuss ongoing collaboration between the council and industry on these points.

Implementation plan costs

The draft implementation plan costs were presented to council last month for consideration as part of the draft annual plan process.

While the proposed plan change still has the hearings process to go through and there may be some changes made, there are fundamental actions the council would be required to be do, regardless of the outcome of the plan hearings.

This includes working with industry on what form industry schemes may take, developing a framework and training for certified Farm Environment Planners and nutrient advisors and building the supporting IT infrastructure.

Council has approved capital expenditure of $1.68 million for the 2017/18 year, the bulk for the IT system development. It also approved operational expenditure of $1.068 million for set up costs.

A 10-year funding timeframe was agreed to, meaning the set up costs for 2017/18 would be $358,000.

The budget variations from the long term plan were not significant enough to trigger consultation requirements for the Healthy Rivers funding.

Those wanting to have a say over the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora plan change proposal could make submissions up until 8 March.

You can read more here.

Beef + Lamb Environment Plan workshops

Waikato Regional Council's land management advisors have been attending Beef + Lamb workshops over the last two weeks to talk about Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora and what Farm Environment Plans might look like under the proposed plan change. The workshops will continue throughout this year and are being developed to take landowners most of the way through the process of developing a FEP. The process will test the on-farm implications of Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora. If you want to know more about this, get in touch with one of the Land Management Advisors team.

Judicial review by Horticulture NZ and others

Legal proceedings have been lodged with the High Court that challenge Council’s decision to withdraw part of the plan change to consult with Hauraki Iwi.

Proceedings were lodged by Horticulture NZ with NZ Deer Farmers Association, Beef and Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers, Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association, and the Primary Land Users Group in support. 

Council has filed its response opposing the application and the matter has been set down to be heard on 19 and 20 June 2017.

Since then HortNZ and others have been calling for council to extend the submission period on the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Plan Change 1.

See HortNZ's media release here.

Waikato Regional Council chief executive Vaughan Payne said any extesion of the submission period could be counter-productive to the interests of rural sector groups however.

“Such an extension could actually be against the interest of rural sector groups. A decision on the plan change needs to be made within two years of it having been publicly notified last October.

“If we delay closing off the submissions on 8 March this will leave less time for us to work with submitters on resolving any issues prior to public hearings due to get underway late this year or early 2018. We want as much time as possible to do this before the two year deadline for a decision on the plan change is up.

You can read the council's full media release here.

Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora - what do you think?

We have been talking to people and landowners around the region about their thoughts on the proposed plan change and why they believe it's important people have their say on the proposed plan through the submission process.

Follow us on facebook to learn more about the proposed plan change and see what some of them have had to say. Follow us here.