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Otago water plan appeals resolved

Otago water plan appeals resolved

The appeals of Federated Farmers and others on Otago Regional Council’s Plan Change 6A (Water Quality) have been constructively resolved for farming and the environment.

“Otago Regional Council’s Plan Change 6A is now a reality,” says Stephen Korteweg, Federated Farmers Otago provincial president.

“On paper, at least, it offers a roadmap for maintaining or improving water quality in Otago. Now the hard work of implementing the plan begins.

“The initial plan was notified in 2012 and Federated Farmers, alongside a number of other parties, appealed the Council’s decisions to the Environment Court. The aim was to flesh out how the policy would work on-farm and how enforcement would be carried out.

“As part of the appeal process there’s a thing called mediation and from that we’ve achieved some positive changes.

“For other regions looking at how to approach a water plan, Plan Change 6A may provide them with a pragmatic template. In our view, it’s nothing like the prescriptive or confusing plans we see going on elsewhere and that is of credit to Otago Regional Council and everyone involved.

“While Plan Change 6A is not necessarily farmer friendly, it is a workable plan which will achieve results and the word result is one that farmers understand,” Mr Korteweg concluded.

Federated Farmers North Otago provincial president, Richard Strowger, acknowledges the resolution does not make it easy on farmers but it shows how farming is prepared to play its part in improving water quality.

“Farmers will be doing all we can to control what comes off our farms,” Mr Strowger continued.

“There are three prohibited activities applying immediately. This includes the discharge of effluent, silage or compost to waterways and the discharge of ‘objectionable’ matter and sediment discharges from disturbed land, where there’s been no attempt at mitigation.

“There are also water quality thresholds and standards applicable from 2020.

“On these, Federated Farmers has worked hard to get realistic timelines so farmers need to understand what these mean to their own operation.

“We are pleased to see Otago Regional Council is updating its website to provide further information, particularly around the prohibited activity rules. This will also include information about on-farm water quality testing.

“Council is also planning a series of information meetings throughout the region over the next few months. Federated Farmers will be actively promoting these to our members.

“A large amount of work will now go into implementing the plan and providing farmers with real-world advice on how to meet the new thresholds,” Mr Strowger concluded.


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