A Waitangi Tribunal report and recommendations on water ownership have put Māori rights and interests in freshwater firmly back in the public spotlight, just as the Government releases a raft of policy changes.
The latest round of Farm Environment Plan audits by the Amuri Irrigation Environmental Collective have given 97% of the farmers collective A or B grades, the remaining 3% a C grade and none a D.
That contrasts with 20% rated as C and 6% as D in the first round of collective audits four years ago.
The collective consists of 176 farmers, including most larger irrigating farms within the Amuri, Hawarden and Hanmer Springs area. Most are Amuri Irrigation Company (AIC) shareholding irrigators but 33 are non-shareholders voluntarily in the collective as their preferred means of environmental assessment.
The collective was set up in 2013 and its environmental management strategy (EMS) was first approved by ECan for audited self management in 2014. The EMS specifies the required content of FEPs, which all members must have, and good management practice standards for farm management.
“The collective is pleased with the steady improvement in performance over the four years, with 97% of all farms in the AIC Environmental Collective at either B or A grade. Our members care about the environment and demonstrating sound environmental management practice that leaves a secure legacy for future generations,” said David Croft, chair of AIC.
ECan’s Hurunui Waiau zone committee welcomed the results, recognising particularly the transition by some farms from lower to higher audit grades.
“They are a good demonstration of the effectiveness of Environment Canterbury’s audited self management programme,” said zone manager Andrew Arps.
“Amuri Irrigation Collective members should be proud of the result, but there is always further room for improvement, and we will keep working with farmers towards this.”
The AIC irrigates 28,000ha in the Amuri Basin north of the Hurunui River with water taken from the Waiau and Hurunui. It also has a proposal to construct a scheme south of the Hurunui, having taken over the now defunct Hurunui Water Project and its water consents at the end of May.