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Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan to be made operative

Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan to be made operative

The Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan will be made operative on December 20, 2013 following approval at an Environment Canterbury council meeting on Thursday, December 5.

“The Plan is significant as it is the first to be made operative involving a collaborative process to align with the vision and principles of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy,” said Environment Canterbury Commissioner Peter Skelton.

“There were three appeals to the Plan on points of law. I am very pleased these were able to be resolved following several months of discussion between the three appellants and the High Court, which resulted in some small changes to the Plan.”

“The work now required is an ongoing effort between the Hurunui-Waiau zone committee, the community, councils, industry and stakeholders on putting the Plan into action to give effect to the community vision and goals set out in the zone implementation programme.”

The zone committee recommendations included that nutrient load limits be set for major rivers and their tributaries. The Plan sets limits for nitrogen and phosphorus on the Hurunui River – measured at the SH1 Bridge – to maintain water quality at the same or better standard that the recent average (2005-2010).

“For farmers in the Hurunui-Waiau catchment the Plan is initially about ensuring they are operating at good environmental management practice or better so that water quality in the catchment can be maintained and improved,” said Peter Skelton.

The new approach, set out in the Plan, will be for farmers to work together in groups (including irrigation schemes, industry or catchment groups) to govern, implement and audit farm environmental programmes that show farmers are adopting good environmental management practices. In particular all farmers will need to record farm nutrient management through the use of industry tools such as OverseerTM, as well as preparing a Farm Environment Plan.

The nitrogen and phosphorus load limits in the operative Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan align with the key recommendations from the Hurunui Waiau zone committee, which is to maintain water quality at its current state.

The Plan sets a phosphorus limit at the 2005-10 average and a nitrogen limit that is 25 per cent higher, as phosphorus is considered to be the limiting factor for algal growth in the catchment.


The Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan and the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan
The purpose of the Hurunui Waiau River Regional Plan is “to promote the sustainable management of rivers and streams and groundwater in the Hurunui, Waiau and Jed river catchments”. The Plan provides the catchment-level detail and local solutions that have come through the collaborative zone committee work, in addition to region-wide rules.

In Canterbury the region-wide rules are set in the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan (due to be notified on January 18, 2014): these cover a wide range of land-use activities which impact on the quality of water in both urban and rural areas.

The Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan includes a number of references to the operative Natural Resources Regional Plan: these references will be replaced by the relevant parts of the Land & Water Regional Plan once it is made operative.

Background and Proposed Plan Change 3
The proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan was notified in October 2011 when the moratoria on consents for the two North Canterbury rivers ended. It sets out the objectives, policies and specific rules for managing water and the cumulative effects of land use in the Hurunui, Waiau and Jed River catchments.

Proposed Plan Change 3 (PC3) to the Natural Resources Regional Plan (NRRP) was developed to clarify that, where an activity was covered by a provision in the HWRRP, the HWRRP would apply, and for all other activities the NRRP would apply.

Plan Change 3 is being made operative at the same time as the Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan

The effect of the “Environment Canterbury Act 2010” is that both documents were subject only to appeals to the High Court on questions of law. There were three appeals (from Hurunui Water Project Limited, Fish and Game New Zealand and Amuri Irrigation Company Limited) on the HWRRP, but these appeals have been resolved through mediation between these parties.

Minor changes have been signed off under delegation but these do not change or alter the effect in accordance with Clause 16 of Schedule 1 of the RMA.


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