16 Nov 2012

Mixed reaction to Land and Water Forum report

6:24 am on 16 November 2012

There is mixed reaction to the final report of the Land & Water Forum, a widely representative body formed to determine how freshwater is used and allocated.

It's recommending that communities should make decisions for their water catchments, that fit within national frameworks set by the Government.

Forum chair Alistair Bisley says water management needs to be a collaborative process.

The forum also wants it made easier for those who hold water consents, to trade them.

But Mr Bisley says the forum could not reach a consensus on charging commercial users of water.

Federated Farmers and the dairy industry support the forum's recommendations, in particular its call for a collaborative catchment-based approach to water management.

But Irrigation New Zealand says last minute changes to the report have undermined its integrity, especially in the section covering water allocation.

Chairman John Donkers says it fails to recognise irrigators' need for long-term consents on water use.

He says it goes back to catchments that are over-allocated and one of the potential solutions to that is investment in water infrastructure, particularly storage infrastructure.

"What Irrigation New Zealand are looking for is longer duration consents to facilitate that investment and some stronger guidelines around the renewal of that consent."

No cherry-picking - Fish & Game

Fish & Game New Zealand says the Government needs to accept all of the forum's recommendations, and not cherry-pick the ones which suit its agenda.

Chief executive Bryce Johnson said the 149 recommendations in the three reports are interconnected and provide the Government with the basis of a blueprint for how to manage the public water resource.

He said that by cherry picking, the Government would fail to honour the process that it set up.

Mr Johnson said that unless the Government takes on board all the recommendations, Fish & Game and the other organisations which have spent the past four years as members of the Land & Water Forum, will wonder why they bothered.