Plan Q & A
The plan was notified in 2016 with a council decision on the plan released in 2018. A number of parties appealed provisions of the plan to the Environment Court and the plan has been progressing through the court since June 2019.
Four interim decisions have been released by the court, and in February 2021, Environment Southland amended the objectives and made part of the plan operative.
Mediation on Topic B is complete, with proceedings now before the Environment Court.
To date, only the objectives have been resolved through the court process.
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.
Topic B – remaining policies, rules and appendices.
The proposed plan will be fully operative once council notify the final decisions from the court. This will happen after all mediation and hearings have been completed. There is no timeframe established for this.
The amended objectives provide a stronger base for improving water quality in the region and raise the importance of Te Mana o te Wai, reflecting the concept’s significance in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020.
It means there will also be greater certainty to the remainder of the proposed plan mediation and hearing process and clearer direction to consent applicants and other plan users.
Plan users and council decision makers have been working under both the Regional Water Plan and the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan since 2016. Until the plan is fully operative (meaning all appeal points have been resolved through the court) both plans are still applicable. As the plan moves through the court process the weighting (the level of consideration) that is applied to the plan by decision maker’s increases. Now that the court has made its decision on the objectives of the plan there is more certainty for plan users and for the council when making decisions on consent applications.
No. Only appellants can submit on court decisions, and none of the parties involved appealed the decision on the objectives. These objectives were made operative on 1 March 2021.