The Ministry for the Environment has provided a draft guide to limits under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater. Councillors praised the document at today’s Strategy and Policy Committee meeting, saying it provided the needed clarity for council and the community on limits.
Director of policy, planning and regulatory services Vin Smith said the guide provided a much clearer definition of a limit, indicating that a limit is not simply a maximum water take or contaminant/discharge threshold. A limit could apply to any resource, including land use that is allocated and can be quantified.
He said the guide highlighted that some of our rules in the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan could be used as a basis for limits. For example, our stock exclusion rules could form the platform for a limit as the rule already restricts stock from accessing a waterway.
Councillor Jeremy McPhail commented that this guide was useful to highlight that we actually have a number of tools to use in limit setting, and there could be less focus on the number that comes out of Overseer.
Providing clarity on what a limit is and how they would be set had been challenging, and this guide gives a really useful, plain-English explanation. “Hopefully people will read this and get a better understanding of limits, and start to focus more on what they can do on their property and less on the number,” Vin said.
Vin said the guidance helped to reinforce the importance of the Southland Science Programme and Southland Economic Project, in that the knowledge gained from this work put us in a better position to set limits.
“We’re in a good position to have conversations with our communities on limits, given the knowledge we’ve gained from these two projects. It’s also important for people to get up to speed with the decisions version of the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan, as the good management practices set out there could be helpful for discussing possible limits.”
The draft guide also includes a discussion on allocation and over-allocation, and provides some principles for setting limits.
A final version of the draft guide is expected to be released in August 2018.
You can find the draft guide at: