Submissions on the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan close on Monday.
The proposed plan, which has been out for public consultation since 3rd June, has so far attracted only 20 submissions however many more are expected to come in over the week.
“We know there are a lot of discussions happening in communities across Southland, and many submissions are being prepared by individuals, businesses and industry groups,” Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips says.
Improving water quality is the council’s top priority. The proposed plan is a significant step towards making this happen, while also meeting the requirements set out by central government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.
“As a regional council we are required to maintain or improve water quality. I appreciate that there are concerns in the community on some of the provisions of the plan. That’s why it’s so important to make a submission,” Rob says.
A key focus of the changes is to shift all land owners towards good management practices in ways that will give the best gains for maintaining water quality.
“One area we know has been the topic of many discussions has been the farm environmental management plan requirement,” he says. “We expect that farmers will be able to draft their own farm plan, and we are currently working on ways to support farmers to do this.”
Environment Southland is currently developing a farm plan portal, preparing a workshop series and engaging with sector and industry groups to try and support farmers to complete farm plans.
“Farm plans are going to be an important tool to ensure all farmers are working at good management practice,” Rob says. “It’s essential that we make that change now as we head towards the important community conversations around freshwater values and the eventual setting of limits.”
Submissions close Monday 1st August. Following this, there will be a period for further submissions. This is a time where those who have already submitted may comment on other submissions – either supporting or opposing them.
The proposed plan then moves forward to the hearing stage in early 2017. Every submitter has the opportunity to speak to their submission, but all submissions will be considered by the Hearing Panel. The Hearing Panel will then consider all of the evidence in deciding the form and content of the plan.
Click here to view the plan, documents, and to submit your views.