November 2018 - Chairman's Report

19 Nov 2018, 2:16 PM

Strategic issues

GMO submissions

Council spent two days at the end of October hearing submissions on GMOs to our Proposed Regional Plan. We had deliberately left GMOs out of our Draft and subsequent Proposed Plans because the matter was still subject to appeal by Federated Farmers.

When we received submissions anyway, we decided to hear those submissions with the full council. We did this because councillors had not debated the issue at all during the formulation of the Draft and Proposed versions of the Plan and we considered that it would not be satisfactory to leave all of the decisions on a contentious issue to an independent panel with no input from your elected leaders.

The council will be debating the submissions over the next couple of months before the Plan is notified around March/April 2019.

Regional councils’ study tour of the Murray Darling Basin in Australia

During October, a number of the regional councils from around New Zealand participated in a study tour of the Murray Darling Basin in Australia looking at water allocation issues. Our council was represented by Malcolm Nicolson, Bruce Howse, Colin Dall and me. 

The Murray Darling Basin is a huge area, approximately four times the size of New Zealand! Water availability is a big issue for the whole of Australia and the Murray Darling Basin is no exception. We were impressed with the huge network of storage dams and remote-control systems for maintaining the flow of water in rivers and irrigation races. It would have been difficult, if not impossible to put all those systems in place under the Resource Management Act!

Of particular interest is their system of tradable water rights. These water rights are broken into two components; the entitlement and the actual allocation. Your entitlement will potentially give you access to a certain amount of water, however, the actual allocation will be calculated on the basis of the amount of water available, depending on weather and seasonal factors, and allocated pro rata according to your entitlement. Quite complicated!