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Rules for Lake Rotorua catchment a step closer

Rules for Lake Rotorua catchment a step closer

6 August 2013

A decision on how nitrogen limits will be allocated to specific land uses in the Lake Rotorua catchment is a step closer.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Proposed Regional Policy Statement has set a sustainable nitrogen limit of 435 tonnes of nitrogen per year in the Lake Rotorua catchment. Nitrogen enters the lake from a range of sources, including agricultural activities, urban wastewater, forests and rain. To reach the sustainable nitrogen limit a reduction of 320 tonnes is needed.

The Regional Council estimates 50 tonnes can be reduced through in-lake initiatives, leaving 270 tonnes to be achieved through reducing nitrogen from pastoral land use.

Regional Council General Manager Natural Resource Operations Warwick Murray said rules would be used to allocate nitrogen to pastoral land use and to ensure that the sustainable limit was met.

“An incentive scheme will also be designed to help reduce the impact of the rules and help land owners to make the necessary changes to their operations,” he said.

“The first step in developing rules for Lake Rotorua is to determine the best way of allocating the sustainable limit to pastoral land use activities in the catchment. This will set out who can discharge what and how much in the Lake Rotorua catchment.

“It is essential to work with the affected stakeholders in developing the rules for the catchment,” he said.

“Staff have been meeting with the Lake Rotorua Stakeholder Advisory Group monthly since last September to develop the rules and incentives to achieve the necessary nitrogen reductions for Lake Rotorua,” Mr Murray said.

The Advisory Group includes representatives from the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective, Lakes Water Quality Society, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Rotorua District Council, Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Office of the Māori Trustee, forestry sector, Te Arawa landowners and small block owners.

“This is a complex issue with no easy answer. Staff are working alongside the Stakeholder Advisory Group to develop a preferred approach on how to allocate the nitrogen to pastoral land-use to present to the Council’s Strategy, Policy and Planning Committee in September,” Mr Murray said.

“Staff will seek from the Committee an in-principle decision on the preferred framework for allocating nitrogen to land use activities in the Lake Rotorua Catchment.”

Once a decision has been made Regional Council staff will continue to work with the Stakeholder Advisory Group to design appropriate rules that will support Council’s preferred allocation method to ensure the nitrogen target is reached by 2032.

“An incentive fund is also being developed to help achieve the required nutrient reductions. How and what the incentives fund will cover will depend on the decision of how the nitrogen is to be allocated to land use activities,” Mr Murray said.

“It will be important for land owners to start planning as soon as possible what they need to do to meet their individual targets. Reaching the nutrient limit will take time, and landowners have until 2032 to make the changes needed. Between the rules and incentive fund we are confident we can reach the sustainable water quality target set by the community for Lake Rotorua,” Mr Murray said.

ENDS

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