Environment Southland has today (4 April 2018) publicly notified the decision version of the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan.
“We believe the plan takes a pragmatic approach to tackling water quality issues in Southland—it provides a good platform and is a big step forwards in maintaining and improving water quality,” said Environment Southland chairman, Nicol Horrell.
The plan sets out objectives, policies and rules to guide the sustainable use, development and protection of water and land resources in Southland. It aims to address declining water quality and manage land-use activities that are considered to contribute a significant level of contaminants.
A focus of the plan is the use of good management practice. “Adopting good management practices is going to be really important to getting the improvements in water quality we all want to see. Changing how we do things isn’t easy, but this is where the real gains will come,” Mr Horrell said.
The plan is the culmination of many years work with Environment Southland’s partners, Te Ao Marama, and Southland communities and industries. Many people engaged in the consultation process and contributed to the plan.
“It’s been a big process and we’ve been very aware of the need to listen to people and take things on board. The input of many people throughout the submissions process was a significant factor in producing a clear, sensible and practical plan,” Mr Horrell said.
A total of 947 submissions were made on the plan. Of these, 274 submitters spoke to their submissions during 26 days of public hearings in Gore and Invercargill last year.
“Thanks to everyone who got involved, either through submitting or coming to one of our drop-in sessions.”
“We need to keep the end goal in mind—building a thriving, sustainable future in Southland for our families, communities and businesses.”
A key thrust of the plan is to maintain existing water quality levels but also to create gains for a sustainable future. It introduces changes to the way some key farming activities can be carried out. It addresses activities that have a significant effect on water such as land-use intensification, winter grazing, stock exclusion from waterways and further intensification or establishment of new dairy farms. It will also require all landholders (over 20 hectares) to have a Farm Environmental Management Plan.
In relation to urban discharges, it seeks to better manage discharges of stormwater and sewage.
Environment Southland would support landholders with advice and assistance where possible. Many of the changes needed to comply with the plan’s rules could be progressively implemented over the next few years.
The plan’s exact implementation timeframes would become clearer after the legally-required statutory appeals process ended. Submitters could appeal the plan’s provisions from today (4 April) until 17 May.
“While we’re in this appeals period, our advice to landholders is to 'get ready’. Change will come, so spend the time getting to know what the plan means for your operation and the things you might need to do differently,” Mr Horrell said.
Environment Southland would keep people informed of the outcome of the appeals process and when they needed to make changes, Mr Horrell said. They could also provide advice about whether consents were needed and by when.
Click here to read more about the plan and the decisions.