Thursday, 25 June 2020 10:58

Taranaki welcomes revised water reforms

Written by  Staff Reporters
All existing Taranaki Regional Council riparian plan fencing can remain and will be accepted as compliant. All existing Taranaki Regional Council riparian plan fencing can remain and will be accepted as compliant.

The Taranaki Regional Council is welcoming the Government’s revised stance on freshwater regulation.

Council chairman and former Fonterra director David Macleod says the revised Essential Freshwater reforms unveiled this month validates the serious concerns raised about its original proposals.

“We all want our waterways to be healthier – we share that goal with the Government,” says MacLeod. 

“However, we had major concerns about the ability of the original proposals to deliver. We told Wellington their initial plans would have brought unpredictable and likely only marginal environmental benefits, but would have taken a very heavy toll on the social and economic well-being of this region and many others.”

MacLeod says the Government is now moderating its approach and seeking to build a more worthwhile, rational, 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.”

Notably, the Government has delayed any decision on a key nutrient limits pending further analysis of their worth, rather than going ahead with strict limits that one study estimated would cost $100,000 each for up to a third of the region’s farms, threatening their viability. 

It has also not proceeded with proposals to universally use OverseerFM in water regulations – the council strongly advised the OverseerFM model was not fit for that purpose.

“We’re delighted the Government agrees OverseerFM is best used as originally intended - for farmers to review and improve on-farm nutrient management,” MacLeod says.

The Government has also eased up on an initial proposal to impose a blanket 5m setback for all riparian fencing, saying now that 3m is the minimum. 

Importantly for Taranaki, all existing council riparian plan fencing can remain and will be accepted as compliant, which the council strongly advocated for. 

The Government has also backed off what would have been harsh constraints on dairying in the Waingongoro catchment, instead progressively targeting freshwater farm plans by which dairy farmers can implement farm-specific management to improve efficiency and reduce off-site effects.

Overall, MacLeod says it’s clear the Government has taken account of many of the points made in the council’s submission. 

MacLeod says that Government was firmly reminded the Taranaki region has, over time, collectively demonstrated strong commitment to improving freshwater health, taking carefully considered long-term action and spending millions of dollars on interventions of proven effectiveness. 

“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.

“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.”

More like this

Queries linger around water plan

DairyNZ says it is still working through the details of the Government’s Essential Freshwater package announced late last month.

Data-driven irrigation

A web-based technology is now available to help farmers better manage their water resources and improve decision-making around irrigation.

Nitrogen caps bound to fail

The Government’s decision to cap nitrogen fertiliser inputs at 190 kg N/ha per year is doomed to fail because it ignores basic science, claims soil scientist Doug Edmeades.

Featured

 

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Caught out?

Was Fonterra caught napping in Australia?

Celebrity welfare

Wannabe kiwi James Cameron is back in the country, under a special visa, to continue filming his movie during the…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter