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Record number of submissions

Council has received a record number of submissions, just over 1000. The largest number of submissions ever received for a plan change process run by council.

The policy team are now entering these into the system and summarising them. We are pleased with the number of people who chose to have their say on the proposed plan. We will continue to work with sectors to try and resolve issues ahead of hearings.

We will call for further submissions, mid-year, asking people to indicate whether they are in support, neutral or in opposition to any of the summarised points. Hearings are expected in late 2017, early 2018. You can read more here. Or find out more on our webpages here.

Judicial review withdrawn

A judicial review of Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1, sought by Horticulture NZ and others has been withdrawn.

On 22 March 2017, Horticulture NZ filed a notice to discontinue the proceedings in the High Court. Council has outlined to the group the process to reincorporate the temporarily withdrawn area (where Hauraki iwi have an interest) into the full plan change process and they were satisfied it could be effectively dealt with.

Protecting and restoring the health of the Waikato and Waipā rivers is paramount for all involved. We all want the plan change put back together again and for the merits of what’s proposed to be appropriately debated at the hearing stage. Read more here.

Hauraki iwi consultation

Consultation is ongoing and we are preparing a summary of key points for consideration.

Once consultation with Hauraki iwi is complete, and recommendations have been made, council will notify the portion of the plan that has been withdrawn, highlighting any changes.

The Resource Management Act process we will use to re-join the withdrawn area to the full plan change is still under consideration. 

Regardless of the method used, it is intended that the two processes will be merged at the earliest possible opportunity, so that there is one hearings and decisions process.

Registrations of interest for hearings commissioners

Waikato Regional Council is calling for registrations of interest for five independent commissioners to sit on a panel to hear submissions on Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1.

An advertisement is on the Government Electronic Tenders service.
We understand the level of interest and the importance of the proposed plan to our community and we are seeking highly experienced and independent commissioners.

It is a rigorous process to be appointed with a very specialist set of skills required.

The five selected will be recommended by a subgroup of Te Ropu Hautu, the Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora steering group. This sub-group will include two Waikato Regional Council directors, two iwi managers and one representative from the Waikato River Authority.

Recommendations for the appointment of the five commissioners will then be made to the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Committee and if approved there the applicants will go to full council for consideration.

Encourage farmers to keep their records

We want landowners to be as prepared as possible for the proposed changes under Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1.

While the proposed plan is subject to change through the submission process, decisions on the plan are expected to be made just five months before landowners will need to have completed register and provide Nitrogen Reference Point information to council. Landowners can prepare now by keeping their records.

Landowners selling or purchasing property should also be aware of the proposed requirements and seek the required information as part of their due diligence. If you’re considering buying a property make sure you obtain the Overseer files for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 years and any supporting documentation as part of your sale and purchase agreement. It’s important to point out we do not want landowners financial records so financial information can be blacked out in these documents.

Types of records which might be useful:

  • Documentation to verify stock numbers ie sale and purchase, grazing invoices, or transport records
  • Dairy production data
  • Records of fertiliser use
  • Evidence of feed supplements sold or purchased and used on farm
  • Water use records for irrigation (to be averaged over 3 years or longer)
  • A map of land used for effluent irrigation
  • Records of crops grown and grazed, including cultivation and sowing invoices where available
  • Horticulture crop diaries and NZGAP records for vegetable growers.
  • Soil test data – including anion storage capacity
  • A map detailing the property boundaries, areas including block (management) areas and retired areas, and the total area of non-productive areas.
  • Certificate of title and legal description

Changes to swimmability guidelines

New swimmability guidelines have been released by Ministry for Environment and we’re working through the Government’s proposals.

Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 was developed with the current National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management guidelines for swimmability.

The current NPS-FM standard for swimmability based on e.coli is no more than 5 samples out of 100 being higher than 540 e.coli per 100ml.

The Government’s proposals for a revised standard indicate that swimming may be OK at standards less than that. They suggest a variety of grades for water quality related to swimmability.

The proposed new values can be considered during the hearings process for Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora.

You can read more here.