Proposed Southland Water and Land Plan
As a regional council we have a responsibility to ensure the region's natural resources are sustainably managed so that they are available for future generations to use and enjoy. Maintaining and improving Southland's water quality is our biggest challenge and first priority.The proposed Southland Water and Land Plan seeks to address activities that are known to have a significant effect on water quality, such as land use intensification, urban discharges, wintering and stock access to waterways.
Environment Southland’s proposed Southland Water and Land Plan was made partially operative following a council meeting in January 2021.
Appeals to the objectives of the proposed plan have been resolved through the Environment Court, with the Court directing council to make changes to this section of the plan. The amendments apply to all of the objectives with the exception of objective 16. The proposed plan became operative (in part) on 1 March 2021.
An Interpretation Statement has been inserted into the plan which expressly recognises objectives 1 and 2 as being the foundation of the plan and that the entire plan embodies ki uta ki tai and upholds Te Mana o te Wai.
Three additional policies have been included in the plan as required by the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020. These relate to natural inland wetlands, rivers and fish passage.
- A series of minor corrections have been made to the plan, under Clause 16(2) of Schedule 1 to the RMA. A list of these changes is available here: List of corrections
- The most recent version of the pSWLP is available here: proposed Southland Water and Land Plan (operative in part)
The proposed Southland Water and Land Plan was publicly notified in June 2016. It went through the submissions and hearings process and the decisions version was accepted by Council on 4 April 2018. Twenty-five parties appealed various parts of the plan to the Environment Court. The Environment Court process separated the provisions under appeal into two groups to be heard consecutively:
Topic A – background and architecture of the proposed plan including Objectives, Ngāi Tahu policies, Physiographic Zone policies, Freshwater Management Unit polices; (note – only the Objectives (excluding objective 16) have been resolved by the Court at this time)
Topic B – remaining objective, policies, rules and appendices.
Mediation on Topic B is complete, with proceedings now before the Environment Court.
You can find some Q&As regarding these changes here: https://www.es.govt.nz/about-us/plans-and-strategies/regional-plans/proposed-southland-water-and-land-plan/plan-q-a
First Interim Decision - December 2019
Second Interim Decision - June 2020
Third Interim Decision - July 2020
Fourth Interim Decision - November 2020
Fifth Interim Decision - December 2022
Sixth Interim Decision - March 2023
High Court proceedings
The Southland Regional Council has brought proceedings to the High Court against the final finding in the fifth interim decision of the Environment Court on the appeals relating to the proposed Southland Water and Plan. The appeal relates to the Environment Courts interpretation on section 70 of the Resource Management Act and its finding on Rule 24 Incidental discharges from farming in the pSWLP.
Submitters had an opportunity to speak to the hearing panel until the hearing closed in October 2017. The hearing panel then wrote a report that made recommendations to Council on the provisions in the plan and the decisions on submissions. The Council has accepted all of the panel's recommendations.
From 4 April 2018, the decisions version of the plan replaces the version notified on 3 June 2016. For a quick look at the key topics and changes to the plan, check out the overview document Exploring the plan.
You can read the full decisions version of the plan here:
- Proposed Southland Water and Land Plan - Part A (text)
- Proposed Southland Water and Land Plan - Part B (maps)
A series of minor corrections was made to the decisions version of the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan after its public notification on 4 April, under Clause 16(2) of Schedule 1 to the RMA. The list is available here:
Hard copies of the plan are available at Environment Southland's offices and at every public library in Southland. You can also read the hearing panel report here:
- Report and Recommendations
- Report and Recommendations - Appendix A (Decisions on Submissions)
- Report and Recommendations - Appendix B1 (Plan - tracked changes)
- Report and Recommendations - Appendix B2 (Plan - clean)
- Report and Recommendations - Appendix C (Reference material)
- The public notice (4 April 2018) is available here: www.es.govt.nz/council/news-and-notices/Pages/default.aspx?newsItem=id%3a21iojvaa217q9sy1q6ke
Any person who made a submission on the plan had the chance to appeal the Council's decision to the Environment Court within 30 working days of receiving notification of the decisions on the provisions and submissions. The last day for lodging appeals with the Environment Court was 17 May 2018.
The Environment Court has issued a direction on 28 May 2018 stating that the period for joining the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan appeals under s274 is extended until Friday 22 June 2018.
The Environment Court has also advised that one s274 notice is required for each appeal that a party seeks to join. The s274 notice is to include an explanation of the particular issues raised by an appeal that a prospective party is interested in and a statement as to whether the relief sought in the appeal is supported or opposed, along with the other information required by Form 33 of the Resource Management (Forms, Fees, and Procedure) Regulations 2003.
You can find more information on the appeals process on the Environment Court's website, www.environmentcourt.govt.nz/court-process/lodge-appeal-or-application/
- List of parties appealing
- Summary of appeals
- Proposed Southland Water and Land Plan - Part A - Decisions version (with shaded Environment Court Appeals) 4 April 2018
- List of Clause 16 amendments to pSWLP
The shading within the appeals version of the plan indicates the provisions which are directly under appeal to the Environment Court. However, please note that additional provisions may be captured as a result of any consequential amendments arising from the outcome of an appeal.
► Click here to see the appeals, evidence and court documents