Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Freshwater Reforms Delivered Mostly As Promised

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has welcomed the announcement by Ministers David Parker, Damien O’Connor and James Shaw this morning of the much-awaited freshwater reforms.

“This package of changes to the present regulatory settings largely delivers on election promises to deal to pollution of our rivers, lakes, streams, estuaries and wetlands. Those commitments followed strong calls from the wider public for more integrity behind our clean, green brand,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“The changes build on and refine earlier reforms implemented by the National-led Government and are aimed at maintaining and improving freshwater management by providing more national direction and environmental bottom lines by prescribing a set of detailed attributes. Sound science and extensive consultation has informed the development of the package.

“Attention now needs to turn to implementation. That will be done by regional councils developing freshwater plans to drive improvements over time. But just how will we make sure that regional councils deliver?

“Part of the answer is the creation of independent hearing panels via the Resource Management Amendment Bill currently going through Parliament. That approach is strongly supported. It brings both expertise and consistency to the hearings process that will determine the final content of plans.

“The rest of the answer is to establish an independent Freshwater Commission. This could be set up initially within the Ministry for the Environment (like the Climate Commission was). It would be tasked with providing robust guidance and oversight of regional council implementation of the reforms. EDS cannot stress enough how important we think this point is (and support for the concept came from both the Freshwater Leaders Group and Kahui Wai Māori). Regional councils need a strong watchdog to keep them on track.

“Notwithstanding the comprehensiveness of the package, there are still some key issues that need resolution, either through detailed drafting of the instruments or by subsequent decisions.

“First, a key focus of the reforms was to complete the set of environmental bottom lines to improve ecological health. This is reflected in attribute tables in the proposed National Policy Statement. The cabinet paper reveals that two important attributes are missing and still to come: Nitrogen (DIN) and Phosphorus (DRP).

“Decisions on both have been deferred for 12 months pending more science. The interregnum needs addressing with some clear advice from the Ministry for the Environment. High DIN and DRP can cause algal blooms which can destroy aquatic life so getting clear attributes for them is important. EDS will be keeping active on those issues.

“Secondly, how so-called Action Plans, a tool proposed to be available for regional councils to use, will work in practice also needs some further attention, guidance and consideration at the detailed drafting stage. EDS is sceptical about their efficacy. One informed commentator has described them as “where potential attributes go to die.”

“There are two key elements in the package that are yet to be drafted. First, a National Environmental Standard and section 360 RMA Regulations that will have immediate effect and will stop things getting worse. These include a cap on fertiliser input and new requirements on stock exclusion from waterways. These elements are critical to ensure we don’t keep going backwards.

Secondly, a revised National Policy Statement – Freshwater Management that sets up a timeline and framework for revised regional council plans. These will need to be operative and take effect by 2024.

“There is more work for EDS and others to do to ensure that the detailed drafting of all of these instruments is fit for purpose

“But overall we are pleased with the package announced today. It represents a key point in the development of freshwater policy that began back in 2009 with the creation of the Land and Water Forum. It’s taken 11 years to get to this stage. Now the real work begins,” Mr Taylor concluded.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Shouldn’t Be Pushed Into Re-opening Our Borders

I believe in yesterday as much as Paul McCartney, but it was bemusing to see the amount of media attention lavished last week on the pandemic-related musings by former government science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, former Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Air New Zealand chairman Rob Fyfe. Unfortunately, the Gluckman paper had no fresh insights to offer as to how and when New Zealand should re-open to visitors from places where the Covid-19 virus rages on, virtually unchecked. Instead, Gluckman and Co posed a string of rhetorical questions – I counted 23 of them in a three page document – presented as if no-one has ever considered such matters before... More>>

Govt: Statement From Rt Hon Winston Peters

Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters has announced he is taking a short stint of medical leave this week. More>>

Isolation: Government And Air NZ Agree To Manage Incoming Bookings

Bookings for seats on Air New Zealand flights into New Zealand will be managed in the short term to ensure the Government is able to safely place New Zealanders arriving home into a managed isolation or quarantine facility, says Housing Minister Megan ... More>>


Government: New Investment Creates Over 2000 Jobs To Clean Up Waterways

A package of 23 projects across the country will clean up waterways and deliver over 2000 jobs Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker announced today. The $162 million dollar package will see 22 water clean-up projects ... More>>


Government: David Clark Resigns As Health Minister

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accepted David Clark’s resignation as Health Minister. More>>


Election 2020: Green Party Unveils Income Policy

The Green Party is today unveiling its Poverty Action Plan, which includes a Guaranteed Minimum Income to ensure people have enough to live with dignity. The scheme resets income support payments to ensure everyone not in full-time paid work gets at least ... More>>


Conservation: New Protection For Dolphins

Extensive new protections are being put in place as part of an updated plan to look after New Zealand’s native Hector’s and Māui dolphins, announced Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage today. More>>


Auckland: Water Consent Referred To Board Of Inquiry

Environment Minister David Parker has today “called in” Auckland’s application to the Waikato Regional Council to take an extra 200 million litres of water a day from the lower reaches of the Waikato River for Auckland drinking water and other municipal uses... More>>


Covid-19 Patient Info Leak: Hamish Walker - A Personal Statement And An Apology

I have spoken to National Party Leader Todd Muller and informed him that I passed to members of the media, by email, information containing Covid-19 patient details that was given to me by a source. I did this to expose the Government’s shortcomings ... More>>


PM: Labour Will Extend Loan Scheme 'lifeline' For Small Business

Labour has announced its plans to extend the Small Business Loan Cashflow Scheme and spend $162 million on a waterway clean-up package. More>>


Biosecurity: Winston Peters On EU Travel: 'We're Not Going To Compromise Our Country's Health'

Foreign Minister Winston Peters says New Zealanders who head to Europe on holiday should pay for their two weeks' hotel quarantine when they return. More>>

Economy: Infrastructure Investment To Create Jobs, Kick-Start COVID Rebuild

A new package of infrastructure investments will help kick-start the post-COVID rebuild by creating more than 20,000 jobs and unlocking more than $5 billion of projects up and down New Zealand. Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Infrastructure Minister ... More>>


Covid-19: Isolation System To Be Beefed Up After Stress

A range of improvements are already underway to address issues identified in the rapid review of the Managed Isolation and Quarantine system released today, Housing Minister Megan Woods said. The review was commissioned just over a week ago to identify ... More>>


Election 2020: Parties Get Into Gear

ACT has today announced its list for the 2020 General Election. “The calibre and experience of our candidates will impress voters of every persuasion. We have candidates from all walks of life. People who have built their homes, families and businesses ... More>>






InfoPages News Channels