The Collaborative Stakeholder Group (CSG) has achieved a major milestone, with the presentation of their broad policy mix to the committee representing the project’s six partners.
The Restoring and protecting our water/Te whakapaipai me te tiaki i ō tātou wai report was received by the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora committee, made up of River iwi and Waikato Regional Council representatives, on 22 March 2016.
The report describes the policies the CSG is in the process of developing, and the intent of the policies.
“We have reached a major milestone on the journey to protect and restore our precious waterways,” said committee co-chair Alan Livingston , a regional councillor.
“The policy mix provides a sound basis for developing the final suite of tools that will be recommended for achieving the Vision and Strategy (Te Ture Whaimana) in a phased way over the next 80 years. I would like to thank the CSG and our iwi partners for the hard work they have put in to get to this point.”
Co-chair Kataraina Hodge, from Raukawa, said: “Restoration and protection of the awa is of paramount importance to river iwi and it is great to be putting in place the roadmap that will ensure future generations will be able to swim and gather food like our tūpuna did in the past. We have appreciated the way stakeholders have come together to develop solutions to the issues we need to address to assist in achieving the outcomes sought by Te Ture Whaimana.”
The CSG’s independent chair Bill Wasley thanked the group’s members for their extensive work over the past two years developing the policy mix. “Our challenge now will be to take this framework and flesh out the detail of the proposed plan change we will finally recommend to the committee in June. This will be a significant task given the various environmental, economic, social and cultural considerations we need to take account of, and the ongoing feedback and input.”
What’s in the CSG’s report?
Restoring and protecting our water/Te whakapaipai me te tiaki i ō tātou wai includes a range of measures to reduce contaminants entering water, while collecting the necessary information to enable allocation of property-level limits for contaminant discharges in the future. It includes topics the CSG has settled on, as well as others they are still actively considering.
Some of the features of the proposed plan change the CSG has agreed on are outlined below.
Everyone to be part of the solution
Catchment wide targets for water quality will apply to both diffuse (non-point source) and point source discharges.
Restricting stock access to water
Dairy and beef cattle, horses, and farmed deer and pigs would be prevented from entering water bodies.
Limiting major land use change
Change of land use from indigenous vegetation or plantation production forestry to animal farming or cropping, or from drystock to dairying (milking platform) would be limited.
The net land area in the Waikato and Waipa river catchments used for commercial vegetable cropping would be capped at current hectares.
Property management plan options based on land use intensity and risk
Low intensity land use would not require a resource consent.
Any land use above low intensity would have three options available, based on the level of risk present.
- Producing a property management plan, and applying for a resource consent
- Producing a property management plan, and being part of a certified industry scheme
- Meeting risk factors, and not having to apply for a resource consent
Property management plans would have actions with dates attached. Landholders would need to show they are undertaking actions as agreed, and this would be audited.
Preparing for property level contaminant limits
Start collecting information from landholders and undertaking research in this plan change, so that property level limits for nitrogen can be set in the future.
The CSG is still considering and refining a number of areas, including:
- enabling provisions for the development of land returned under Te Tiriti O Waitangi settlements and multiple Māori owned land
- the outcomes expected from the proposed plan change after 10 to 20 years
- prioritising catchments to implement rules requiring property management plans
- timeline for implementation and when rules will come into force.
What happens next?
Please note dates below are indicative.
Mar - Apr 2016
- CSG receives more information (from CSG subgroups focusing on property management plans and Māori land), and from the Technial Leaders Group
- CSG focuses on detailed drafting and refining of the proposed plan change.
- CSG confirms their recommendation on the proposed plan change to be notified.
- Healthy Rivers Wai Ora committee receives CSG’s recommendation on proposed plan change, for recommendation to Waikato Regional Council.
- Waikato Regional Council receives Healthy Rivers Wai Ora committee’s recommendation to publicly notify proposed plan change.