October 2017 - Chairman's Report

19 Oct 2017, 2:24 PM

Strategic issues:

Proposed Regional Plan

Cover of the Proposed Regional Plan 2017.The proposed Regional Plan has now been notified and council is looking for public input to ensure that we get a robust document that has good community support. This new plan represents approximately three years’ work reviewing and simplifying the previous Regional Water and Soil Plan, Air Quality Plan, and Coastal Plan, and combining them into a single plan.  Council staff have done a great job in meeting the council’s challenge and reduced this new plan down to less than one third of the number of pages in the previous three plans combined.

A strong focus of the review has been to reduce the need to obtain resource consent for minor activities, subject to meeting conditions which ensure that the adverse environmental effects of those activities are appropriately reduced, eliminated or mitigated. This does not mean ‘open slather’, it just means that there is less need for resource users to apply for resource consents provided that they work within the permitted activity rules.

These changes have been made in the interests of reducing costs for resource users and at the same time ensuring environmental protection.

Water Quality Issues

Our communities have become increasingly concerned about water quality issues. An
unfortunate side effect of the water quality debate has been that some lobby groups and the media in general have asserted that all of the problems with water quality come from farming activities.

This is not correct!

Urban communities can have a significant impact on water quality as well, particularly larger ones. The Tamaki Estuary in Auckland is one of the most polluted estuaries in the country and there is not a dairy cow or farm animal anywhere in that catchment! In Northland, water quality in the upper Whangārei Harbour is clearly impacted by urban discharges and a number of town sewage treatment systems are not consistently meeting their resource consent conditions, adding to water quality deterioration in our waterways.

Let’s stop pointing fingers at one another and recognise that improving water quality is an
issue for each and every one of us, and that we all have a collective responsibility to deal to these problems.