31 May 2020

Warnings on freshwater rules were heard - Taranaki politician

4:02 pm on 31 May 2020

Taranaki's regional council says the government's new freshwater rules validate its concerns about their original proposal.

A view of Mt Taranaki over a waterway.

Photo: 123rf


Taranaki Regional Council chairman David MacLeod says it told the government the original proposal would have marginal environmental benefit, but would impose a very heavy toll on the social and economic well-being of the region.

MacLeod said this week's announcement shows the Government is now seeking to build a more worthwhile, rational and science-based freshwater regulation regime.

"We're still working though the details. But in general, this change of stance is to be welcomed. The council's strong and evidence-based submissions were substantially agreed with and key changes made."

In particular, MacLeod welcomed the move to delay any decision on key nutrient limits until further analysis of their worth, rather than going ahead with strict limits, which he said one study had estimated could cost up to a third of the regions' farms $100,000 each, threatening their viability.

"We're also delighted the Government agrees [software] OverseerFM is best used as originally intended - for farmers to review and improve on-farm nutrient management."

The Government had eased back on an initial proposal to impose a blanket 5 metre setback for all riparian fencing, saying now that 3 metres is the minimum.

Mr MacLeod claimed one of the three South Taranaki seats on offer at the council.

Taranaki Regional Council chairman David MacLeod Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Importantly for Taranaki, MacLeod said all existing council riparian plan fencing could remain, and would be accepted as compliant.

The new reforms relax planned constraints on dairying in the Waingongoro catchment, south of Mt Taranaki, instead using freshwater farm plans which allow dairy farmers to use farm-specific management schemes to improve efficiency and reduce off-site impacts.

Overall, MacLeod said it was clear many of the points made in the Taranaki Regional Council's submission had been taken on board.

Million Metre volunteers work on a catchment area planting native trees.

Riparian planting. (File photo). Photo: RNZ / Brad White

He said the Government was firmly reminded the Taranaki region had, over time, collectively demonstrated a commitment to improving freshwater health, had taken careful long-term action, and spent millions of dollars on interventions that worked.

"We all want our waterways to be healthier - we share that goal with the Government.

"But if anything, the original proposals threatened to undo a lot of good work and goodwill and bring hardship and deprivation to communities engaged in productive and sustainable enterprise. We are still working through the amended proposals, but we're encouraged that the voice of reason appears to have been heard, at least in part," MacLeod said

"We all know we have more to do in both our rural and urban areas, but Taranaki people know how to roll up our sleeves and keep moving forward. We've consistently led and shown New Zealand that it is not about endlessly changing plans, policies, meetings and paper -- it's on-the-ground actions that change and improve our environment."

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