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Joint Southland Economic Project for Water Quality

Joint Southland Economic Project for Water Quality

The two-year project being launched this week in Bluff will see local government, the primary sector, iwi, central government, and business working together on tools for understanding the economics of managing water quality in Southland. The project is part of Water and Land 2020 & Beyond, which is how Environment Southland will be implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management in Southland.

The Southland Economic Project is a joint initiative between Environment Southland, DairyNZ, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, Te Ao Marama, Ministry for Primary Industries, Department of Conservation and the Southland Chamber of Commerce. It will develop the tools for understanding how future policy options to manage water quality in catchments could impact our economy and communities.

Environment Southland Chairman Ali Timms says the project is about agreeing on how to get the right economic picture for Southland so we can use it in decision-making. “This project is not about deciding outcomes, but working out how we get there. We are investing in the tools now for use in future decision-making around the setting of catchment limits. It’s critical that we do this the right way for the community,” she said.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Southern South Island Director, Andrew Morrison said the sheep and beef sector made a significant economic contribution to the region and it was working to ensure its impact was environmentally sustainable.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand is committed to working alongside Environment Southland and others to make sure Southlanders continue to enjoy the economic benefits sheep and beef farming brings, while preserving the region’s special environment.“

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman said, “We welcome the initiative of a joint and collaborative approach on such a complex issue as water quality. Everyone agrees that water quality is essential – the question is what impact different policies have on the Southland economy and the well-being of our communities. Our experience is that working on a joint venture and taking the time to do the analysis properly leads to much better outcomes for everyone involved. It is an opportunity to ensure the analysis is robust, backed by the expertise of industry groups.”

For Ngai Tahu Sir Tipene O’Regan stated, “Our interest in this Economic Project is two part: as citizens of the community but also very much on the question of our mahika kai. Our kids are in schools, we are workers, we are business leaders, we are fishing, and some of us are farming. Water quality, especially in the estuaries, and the health and access to resources are critical for our culture and our place. It is at the heart of our identity and who we as a people.”

Barry Hanson, Director Conservation Partnerships for the Department of Conservation, said “It’s great to be sitting at the table where the factors that drive Southland’s economy are being discussed and researched.”

At a local level, Sarah Hannan, Southland Chamber of Commerce CEO, commented “We appreciate the value and competitive advantage our natural resources provide for many local industries. This project provides a great opportunity to work together to ensure we fulfil the region’s economic potential while still looking after our quality of life and our environment.”

Recent Government studies indicated that the direct economic costs of managing land use for water quality in Southland could have considerable impact on the regional economy over the short-medium term. However, as the economy meets environmental constraints the longer term picture is less clear. “There will be challenges for the region and we need to turn them into opportunities” said Ms Timms. “This Project is a major investment in Southland’s future.”

The Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management requires regional councils to maintain and improve overall water quality within a region and to set catchment limits. Tools developed within the Southland Economic Project will be used to investigate the impacts of policy options for catchment limits.

ENDS

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