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National environmental snapshot sobering reading

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chief Executive James Palmer has welcomed a national report released today on the state of our natural environment but says it makes sobering reading.

Environment Aotearoa 2019 is jointly-produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ and outlines nine priority issues in need of attention throughout New Zealand.

The report highlights a number of concerns in Hawke’s Bay including:

High sediment, phosphorus and E.coli in many waterways from erosion, causing coastal impacts
Stream and river flows being impacted by water takes
Risks to coastal Hawke’s Bay from sea level rise
There is also some good news for the region with the report showing nitrate and nitrogen levels very likely improving at a number of sites in Hawke’s Bay.

James Palmer says the report gives a good overview and provides a fresh platform for improving the natural environment across the country. At a local level, he says the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s five-yearly State of the Environment is due out later this year.

Mr Palmer says the report shows the country has a long way to go, but the Hawke's Bay Regional Council is focused on being part of the solution and has already identified many of the priority areas raised in the report in its 2018-2028 Long Term Plan and started work on them.
“This report highlights why we are doing the things we are doing,” says Mr Palmer.

He says in the last year, the Regional Council has funded a major increase in consenting and compliance staff to support stronger regulation of farming and forestry for better water quality. It has doubled its planning team to create more rules on land use quicker to address poor land-use practices.
“We have been careful to balance this increase in regulation with greater support for farmers, by doubling our team working alongside landowners and creating a $30 million fund to support fencing, tree planting and erosion control,” says Mr Palmer.

“We are making great progress in pest control and protecting biodiversity. Our new Predator Free project is getting under way on Mahia Peninsula as an initial step towards ridding the region of predators.”

James Palmer says the Regional Council is working closely with all the region’s councils to ensure their wastewater and stormwater systems are up to the task and is also developing a strategic long-term strategy for managing climate change between Clifton and Tangoio through a joint committee made up of local councils and iwi.

“Change won’t happen overnight but these are all steps towards improving our regional environment. But we can’t do it alone and need the whole community to get behind these initiatives for the good of our entire region.”


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