February 2019 Update
The Waikato Regional Council withdrew a portion of the Waikato Catchment of Plan Change 1 in December 2016. The portion was included when that part, Variation 1, was re-notified on the 10th of April 2018. While a most of the provisions that were taken out were returned without amendment, a number of dates for compliance with some of the rules were amended. Council made a submission to the variation raising concerns about the practicality of the new dates.
On the 20th of August, Waikato Regional Council released a summary of all the submission points (decisions requested) by submitters to Plan Change 1 and sought further submissions. Further submissions are were a party can support or oppose a summarised submission point made to a plan change. The support or opposition can be to all of a submission point (in full) or part of that submission point (in-part).
Council assessed a number of submissions from key stakeholders and Iwi partners. Council made further submissions in support (in part) to the submissions of 11 of those stakeholders where parts of their submissions sought to address the important matters outlined above.
Council also took the opportunity to combine with nine other Territorial Authorities as part of the Waikato Region Territorial Authorities (WARTA) group to provide a united and strong voice for communities within the region impacted by Plan Change 1. WARTA made joint further submissions to a range of stakeholders submissions for similar reasons as Council’s.
Hearings are scheduled from early March. The hearings panel have chosen to hear evidence in three blocks. Council will likely give evidence in all three blocks. Council will undertake discussions with WARTA and stakeholders to try an identify a suitable alternative approaches to Plan Change 1 that will minimise effects on the South Waikato Community. Where this can be found Council may consider supporting a joint approach at the Hearing.
Water quality has consistently been identified as the top issue for the people of the Waikato region for the past two decades. The Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 is a response to addressing the complex issue of water quality facing the Waipa and Waikato rivers. Nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and bacteria levels are rising in our waterways and tackling those issues is important to ensuring the health of our rivers going into the future
Waikato Regional Council have developed the Plan Change using a collaborative process that means those who are most affected by the changes have had been at the table developing the policy. The Council is proposing a staged approach that balances the social, economic, cultural and environmental needs of the Waikato region managing water quality over an 80-year period. The proposed plan change is required to give effect to Government legislation on the management of fresh water and Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato (The Vision and Strategy for the Waikato and Waipā rivers) which was introduced by Government as part of Treaty Settlement legislation.
What is the Healthy Rivers Plan Change 1?
The Plan outlines the process and structure to achieve the vision and strategy for the river catchments. The Plan focuses on ways to improve water quality to make it safe for swimming and a sustainable food source.
What is South Waikato's stance on Plan Change 1?
South Waikato District Council has made a submission to the Waikato Regional Council to reconsider its Healthy Rivers plan due to the detrimental effect it will have on the South Waikato community.
Our overarching message is: While the South Waikato District Council supports the aspirations of Healthy Rivers and what it's trying to achieve, we are seeking specific and important changes to this plan from Waikato Regional Council to ensure positive outcomes for South Waikato.
Other important concerns are:
- South Waikato has a unique economic and community profile and the potential impacts such as job losses and infrastructure affordability on our district from this plan are significant.
- Given our current demographic, for example an ageing population, Healthy Rivers is simply unrealistic, unachievable and unaffordable for South Waikato to implement.
- Healthy Rivers does not incentivise land owners and land managers to be more sustainable. Land owners/managers will be penalised rather than supported to improve the way they use their land.
- The implications for long-term planning for the district are unclear with the proposed two-tier resource management framework.
- Section 32 of the Resource Management Act 1991 states that the Waikato Regional Council has a duty to provide understandable, practical, cost-effective and fair methods to implement resource management framework. We believe the Council has failed to do this.
- We have no information about how the regional council has arrived at an impact figure of $50 million for SWDC and we seek explanation of exactly which areas this will impact in the region.
- There is lack of certainty for land owners and land managers.
- The pathway is unclear around what happens after 10 years and there is a high risk of the goalposts being moved in 10 years.
- A science and technology gap needs to be bridged before sustained environmental improvements can be achieved.
"The potential impacts such as job losses and infrastructure affordability on the district would be significant," said Mayor Jenny Shattock. "Employment in dairy farming will be hugely impacted and this will cause a knock-on effect in the wider district which relies heavily on dairy farmers to survive."
Taking the community with us
South Waikato District Council want residents and ratepayers to know that as an organisation we are taking the Healthy Rivers proposed Plan Change very seriously. And we have serious concerns about the impact of the Plan Change on the South Waikato economy and people. We encourage our community to familiarise themselves with the Plan Change objectives and impacts. Our Council will continue to advocate for amendments to be made to the proposed Plan Change.
- South Waikato submission on Healthy Rivers Plan Change 1
- South Waikato District Council - Mayor Jenny Shattock's Evidence for hearing
- South Waikato District Council & Matamata-Piako District Council - Murray Kivell's Evidence for hearing
- Waikato Regional Council Healthy Rivers webpage (includes submissions)
- Media Statement - South Waikato seeks changes to Healthy Rivers