Are they reading the same report?

November 28, 2012

Parliamentary Commissioenr for the Environment Jan Wright,  says that fracking can be done safely if well managed but raises concerns about the rules and safeguards surrounding the practice New Zealand.

“During the course of this investigation I have come to a similar conclusion to the Royal Society which is that fracking is safe if it is properly regulated and managed.

“However I have significant concerns about how fragmented and complicated the regulatory environment for fracking is and about how these rules are being applied.

“If fracking is not done well it can have significant environmental impacts including polluting water and triggering earthquakes.

“I am also concerned that regulation may be too light-handed, particularly if fracking opens the door to a large-scale and widespread oil and gas boom with a lot of different companies involved.

“These concerns form the basis of the next stage of my investigation into fracking which I hope to conclude before the middle of next year.”

That seems reasoned and reasonable but the responses make me wonder if people are reading the same report.

An alliance of 16 environmental groups, hapu and businesses have signed onto a joint statement, demanding a nationwide ban or moratorium on fracking.

The Environmental Defence Society says the report isn’t green light for fracking but is a timely wake-up call for early reform of fracking consenting and monitoring.

“This report reveals the complexities of fracking, the reliance on high quality environmental management to prevent pollution and the gaps in the present regulatory settings,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor. . .

Forest and Bird backs the commissioner’s caution:

Forest & Bird is urging the authorities to adopt a precautionary approach to fracking because much more needs to be known about its environmental impacts and how New Zealand should regulate the practice before approval for more fracking operations can be considered. . .

Straterra, the representative group for the minerals and mining industry, says Dr Wright has provided a much-needed common-sense approach to the debate:

“The minerals and mining sector – like all other industries – fully embraces the need to look after New Zealand water resources and our environment. Examples of fracking so far in New Zealand provide a pretty good track record of having done that.

“The industry deserves to be given the opportunity to submit on work carried out in New Zealand to show how they are protecting New Zealand’s environment as part of their everyday activities, and that is what the Commissioner is allowing to happen,” Mr Baker says.

“It is important that fracking, like any resource sector activity that impacts on the environment, is carried out to a high standard, and that we have good regulations in place for that activity. That said, fracking and new technologies have made a major positive impact on the availability and cost of energy elsewhere in the world.

“Economically, New Zealand can ill afford to turn its back on the opportunities fracking offers in energy security and increased wealth,” Mr Baker says. . .

Todd Energy also welcomes the report:

Todd Energy notes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) high level conclusion that the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be managed effectively provided operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.

Todd Energy Chief Executive Paul Moore said the company welcomes the Commissioner’s report. “We would like to assure the public that Todd’s hydraulic fracturing operations are effectively designed and executed. . .

Federated Farmers says:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) hydraulic fracturing investigation could reduce unease over the technique.

“Federated Farmers has kept an eye on the PCE investigation given land-based minerals exploration can often occur on or near to farmland,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers energy spokesperson.

“From what I have seen in the PCE’s interim report, she has taken a considered look at fracking. While hydraulic fracturing has been used in New Zealand since 1989, controversy has really only ignited over the past two years, if you excuse the pun.

“From agriculture’s perspective, we are most interested in land access issues and compensation. As well as what risks the technique may pose to ground and surface water.

“The PCE found the distance between where fracking occurs and aquifers can be as much as one to two kilometres. There are shallower fracks and I guess this underscores why the PCE recommends a watching brief.

“The PCE however believes that while contamination of ground or surface water is possible, the probability “is very unlikely”.

“After reading the PCE’s report, I can say that Federated Farmers feels more comfortable with the technique.

“The PCE stresses we frack well in New Zealand but describes regulation and oversight as “labyrinthine“. Clearly, there is a role for Government to ensure regulations are fit for purpose.

“Mining and minerals are important contributors to the economy and employment. Along with agriculture and utilities, mining is one of the few areas where we outperform Australia in terms of productivity,” Mr Crofoot concluded.

Caution and further investigation to ensure that best practice is required and adhered to is sensible.

But the report is clear there is not a case for a moratorium, although that hasn’t stopped those of a dark green and far left persuasion calling for one.


Land & Water Forum’s final report generally welcomed

November 16, 2012

The Land and Water Forum’s final report fleshes out the detail of a new consensus for a major reform of water laws and practices in New Zealand,”  Forum chair, Alastair Bisley, said.

“The breadth of this consensus provides a once in a generation chance to resolve the entrenched problems surrounding fresh water.”

The Forum is recommending integrated decision-making in catchments, continuous improvement of management practices and clearer rights to take and use water within set limits.

Mr Bisley said: “Our reports together provide a comprehensive and detailed blueprint to maximise opportunities from fresh water for us all – farmers and fishers, power generators and recreationalists, citizens and tourists, cities and industries.

We want to grow the economy and improve the environment. Our recommendations apply to both urban and rural catchments. They provide for iwi to play their role as Treaty Partners and stakeholders.

“We call for community decisions at catchment level – within national frameworks and bottom lines from central Government.”

The Forum proposes a collaborative approach at both national and catchment levels to set and implement objectives for waterways, prescribe limits for takes and discharges where these are required, and to find fair, efficient and accountable ways to implement the limits.

“The Forum believes all water quality solutions should be tailored to individual catchments,” said Mr Bisley.

“Good management practice by land and water users is the basic tool. Incentivising it is the preferred approach. Regions are accountable for managing within limits. Industry schemes, catchment-wide initiatives and regulation may all help to ensure the limits are achieved within the agreed timeframes.

“Water available for users once limits have been set should be allocated with long-term economic welfare in mind.

“All authorised takes should be brought progressively within the allocation system.

“As catchments become fully allocated, consents should be clarified and strengthened to preserve their value. Water should be made more easily transferable between users while limits are preserved.” . . .

He described the report as a once in a generation opportunity :

 . . . While there were some notable non-signatories to the outcomes of the four year experiment in consensus decision-making, the forum managed to get 95 percent of its 60-plus members from industry, local government, iwi, environmental groups, recreational users and farmers across the line on 67 recommendations.

Among signatories are the national farming lobby, Federated Farmers, although their objection to any system requiring water rents saw the forum make no recommendation in that area.

The system it promotes would see the government establish national guidelines and standards for freshwater catchment management, which would be used by regional councils as the foundation for collaborative processes at a local level to establish “scarcity thresholds” for freshwater resources. . .

Dairy NZ has welcomed the report:

DairyNZ says the key to setting and managing to water quality limits is collaborative decision-making at a catchment level.

Commenting today on the release of the final Land and Water Forum (LAWF) report, DairyNZ chairman John Luxton says, “We recognise, as the LAWF report does, that this kind of community-driven catchment process needs to become the centre of water quality and quantity management.

“That is how we will make a difference to water quality – catchment by catchment across the country. Communities understand that, because people can relate any impact to the place where they live and work and their local waterway, so will take some ownership of the actions.”

He says that dairy farmers are already involved in these kinds of processes throughout New Zealand. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Third Land And Water Forum Report:

The final report from the Land and Water Forum strikes a balance between preservation and production, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

As a member of the forum we sought recognition for sheep and beef farmers as stewards of our rural land, while preserving opportunities for those who manage water sustainably.

It has been a long and complex process, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand Western North Island Farmer Director, Kirsten Bryant. “But, ultimately, one in which the voices of water users of all different types have been heard and in which we have all worked together for the good of all of New Zealand.”

She welcomed the emphasis throughout the process on local people making local decisions, within a national framework. . .

Meridian Energy also welcomes the report:

Meridian Energy today welcomed the release of the Land and Water Forum’s (LAWF’s) third report.

Chief Executive Mark Binns congratulated the Forum for pulling together a complex and diverse group of water interests.

“There are a range of views on the right approach to manage New Zealand’s fresh water resources. This forum has enabled all parties to put their views on the table,” says Mr Binns.

“Recognition should go to Chair Alistair Bisley and all Forum members for their four year collaboration. The result is three quality reports that will help improve water management for New Zealand.”

The water allocation report marks the conclusion of the Forum’s work. “LAWF’s collaboration provides an opportunity for making positive change to the way New Zealand manages its water. This framework is capable of protecting the environment and enabling economic growth,” says Mr Binns.  . .

Business NZ says the recommendations are positive:

The third report of the Land and Water Forum brings useful recommendations for improving New Zealand’s freshwater management, says BusinessNZ.

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said water was essential for many business activities which drive New Zealand’s economy and on which many New Zealanders rely for employment and income growth.

“Businesses require the confidence to invest in infrastructure and other capital projects knowing their rights to use water are clearly understood and secure.

“Investors are risk averse and any changes in the right to take or use water over time need to be clearly understood.

“It is important that transfer and trade in water rights are facilitated to the extent possible allowing water to move to its highest valued use, without unnecessary restrictions from regulators.”

Fish and Game says cherry picking would derail a water clean up:

Fish & Game NZ says the release of the third and final Land and Water Forum (LWF) report will only have an impact on improving freshwater management if the Government accepts all of the Forum’s recommendations, which are interconnected, and not pick and choose those which suit.

In these three reports the Government now has the bones of a blueprint – reached by consensus – for how to manage the public water resource, says Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“All three reports must be treated as a package deal,” he says. “LWF’s second report recommended the need for a national objectives framework for water quality but the Government took it upon itself to develop these outside the forum framework. We’ve never had reasonable justification for that decision, which is odd given all the expertise was around the LWF table.

“LWF has been deliberating on these issues to reach a consensus for fouryears now and during that time freshwater quality and quantity has continued to deteriorate,” says Mr Johnson. . .

Federated Farmers supports the recommendations:

“Despite what is said at times about our environment, we must never forget we still enjoy some of the highest quality water on earth,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesman.

“LawF recommendations are about setting a pathway to protect and over time, improve our already high water quality. It is about better managing our most precious natural resource to fulfil our social, economic, environmental and cultural needs.

“Farmers support this aspiration and Federated Farmers is committed to playing our part in achieving it.

“We know the way we farm will need to change. Perhaps what needs to be fully understood is that change is also needed beyond agriculture. LawF covers all water, rural or urban, so we are all in this together.

“At the heart of LawF recommendations is for communities to adopt a collaborative process in setting water quality limits. This mirrors the one we have gone through on LawF itself. It is a very good way to understand issues in depth.

“Any collaborative process must be genuinely informed by what limits mean for individual communities. It is about striking a balance between what is feasible and what is not.

“Federated Farmers does take issue with some regional councils rushing to set limits. This fails to inform or involve the community in what will affect jobs, a community’s standard of living, or for that matter, its makeup.

“There are also some local councils who believe they ought to be exempted because they cannot achieve limit objectives and therefore, shouldn’t have to. It is the kind of thinking some farmers may have harboured decades ago, but not now.

“For agriculture, the regulatory process should embed Good Management Practice (GMP), the inclusion of farm environmental plans and where appropriate, Audited Self Management (ASM).

“Good Management Practice provides a holistic way to address water quality issues than the nitrate myopic approach suggested by many regional councils.

“Good Management Practice should further help communities decide where limits should be set, so as not to cause social and economic damage. I guess this is about empowering communities to find the right balance.

“LawF recommendations are a roadmap and Federated Farmers supports them,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

Te Wai Maori Trust says the report is a practical and sensible solution to fresh water management:

New Zealand’s future as a leading primary sector producer as well as our nation’s 100% Pure New Zealand brand depends on our ability to sustainably manage the valuable fresh water resource. The third report of the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), released today, provides a responsible yet practical way forward to freshwater management, the Te Wai Maori Trust says.

Te Wai Maori Chairman Ken Mair today called on the Government to implement the recommendations, which found that iwi rights and interests must be resolved for any freshwater management regime to be stable and durable in the future.

“There are a range of competing uses for fresh water throughout the country – from dairying to crop farming, urban demands to tourism uses. But the Government will not be able to resolve them in a durable manner until it engages with iwi over Maori rights and interests in fresh water,” Mr Mair said. . .

Regional councils say the report cements their role:

Chair of the regional sector group Fran Wilde said the report cements the role of regional councils in managing New Zealand’s freshwater resource and highlights the need for a more supportive national framework for collaborative decision-making.

“Regional councils are at the forefront of water management and use a variety of methods to manage and enhance water quality,” said Ms Wilde.

“There is strong support among councils for collaborative decision-making regarding water quality management and we have a number of successful examples of this in action.” . .

Environmental Defence Society endorses Land and Water Forum Report:

The release of the third and final report from the Land and Water Forum has been welcomed and endorsed by the Environmental Defence Society.

The Forum originated at the 2008 EDS Conference where an initial support group from a wide range of interests, including farming and environmental, agreed to try and find a better way of managing freshwater.

“It’s been a long road since then, with the Government getting behind the exercise and the core group expanding to include representation from all key stakeholders and from iwi. Four years on there is now a package of measures that need to be taken together and implemented by Government,” said EDS Chair Gary Taylor. . .

However, Irrigation NZ says last minute changes weaken the report:

IrrigationNZ says last minute changes to the Land and Water Forum’s Third Report, ‘Managing Within Limits’, have weakened its integrity.

“IrrigationNZ has spent the past year collaborating in good faith to reach agreement on how water quantity and quality is best managed in NZ. A package that provided a sound platform to support sustainable future growth in New Zealand had been produced. However, last minute changes, particularly to the water allocation section, mean IrrigationNZ now questions whether the Land & Water Forum is the collaborative consensus- based process it claims to be?” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

While Mr Curtis says there are many positives within the final report, including the need for; community-driven catchment-based water management; industry ‘Good Management Practice’ as the preferred route; development of community water infrastructure to address over-allocation; and a move to plan-led water management – IrrigationNZ has major concerns about parts of the water allocation chapter.

Certainty is the key if irrigators are to invest in sustainability. Irrigators need long-duration consents and an explicit right of renewal,” says Curtis. “Short durations and uncertainty of renewal will produce reactive and high- risk thinking which creates scenarios prohibitive to capital investment. If the community wants environmental gains without job losses or food price increases, then New Zealand must implement a resource management system that allows for long-term investment and thinking.”

There is also a need for community-driven water infrastructure solutions to be consented for over 50 years. This would improve the viability of initial and on-going capital investment. In return for this, IrrigationNZ agrees consents need to adapt in a timely manner to environmental limit changes. “This is the most logical package for water allocation,” says Curtis. Having recently returned from an overseas study tour of irrigation developments in the UK, Israel and Australia he says, “It is also consistent with water allocation internationally.”

“Irrigators have committed to more sustainable farming practices. Certainty, long-term thinking and catchment-based water management are the only way water quality and quantity objectives set by the wider community will be achieved in New Zealand.”

The full report can be downloaded  here.


Rural round-up

August 28, 2012

More milk. less impact achievable – Hugh Stringleman:

The technology exists to lift milk production and manage the environmental impacts of dairy industry development, according to soil scientist Ross Monaghan and environmental consultant Ciaran Keogh, both frontline speakers to the annual Environmental Defence Society conference session called Greening Farming.

Farmers need clear signals from industry leaders and strong extension networks to adopt best practice for environmental sustainability, according to AgResearch senior scientist Ross Monaghan.

“As a technocrat, I believe we have good management options and systems to manage our resources, grow our industries and yet reduce our environmental footprints, he said. . .

Ministry Formally Warns Growers Following Misuse Of Chemical Spray

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has completed an investigation into the misuse of the antibiotic streptomycin on kiwifruit, and 26 growers who admitted using the chemical outside the strict use conditions have been sent a formal warning letter.

The misuse of the compound constitutes a technical breach of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997.

MPI Director Compliance Dean Baigent says MPI approved the use of streptomycin on kiwifruit under strict use conditions to avoid any possibility of chemical residues occurring in fruit. The conditions included a maximum of three spray treatments onto leaves prior to vine flowering. . .

Hunterville Farmer Is The 2012 B+LNZ Young Rancher

Hunterville farmer Peter Fitz-Herbert has been awarded a Beef + Lamb New Zealand agricultural scholarship that will take him to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and Young Ranchers Programme being held in British Columbia, Canada next month.

Peter, who is the stock manager on the Fitz-Herbert family farm, will accompany Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island Director, James Parsons to the Five Nations Beef Alliance. It is made up of producer organisations from Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States and meets annually to discuss global issues and opportunities for the beef sector. . .

Risk expert: banks left farmers in dark -  Rob Stock:

Risk and derivative experts say banks, including ANZ National Bank and Westpac, should not have sold complex interest rate swaps to farmers.

Claims are also emerging that though swaps were sold as “interest rate risk management” tools, unsophisticated farmers lacked the expertise and tools to monitor their position, and were provided with little or no ongoing support or advice to manage their interest rate risks.

One of New Zealand’s best-known risk advisers, Roger Kerr from Asia-Pacific Risk Management, said he believed at least a proportion of the swaps were sold to farmers who did not know what they were buying. . .

Farmers’ bid to revisit divorce deal rejected - Matt Nippert:

A New Plymouth farmer has lost a Court of Appeal bid to recalculate his divorce settlement after judges ruled his sudden recovery from a brain injury and a rapid rise in farm property values could not have been anticipated.

Neil Johnston had been appealing a decision ruling against his claim against a law firm and his court-appointed property manager claiming a five-year delay in settling his divorce left him $780,000 out of pocket. . .

Kiwifruit executive has his hands full - Jamie Ball:

Not even six months in the job but it’s been a week of reckoning for Barry O’Neill, Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) chief executive.

But, cometh the hour cometh the man. The discovery ofPsa-V in two Waikato orchards last week might have taken the wind out of many a sail, but not Mr. O’Neill. It is, after all, what the independent pan-industry organisation was established to minimize in 2010.

With a lengthy career in the biosecurity sector within New Zealand and overseas behind him, Mr. O’Neill, is taking the Psa challenge head-on. . .

Data to be shared in sheep measles’ fight -

Confidential information about sheep and deer farmers collected for stopping the spread of sheep measles is about to be shared to strengthen biosecurity in New Zealand.

Ovis Management project manager Dan Lynch said 20,000 sheep and deer farmers’ contact details were obtained from meatworks and held in a confidential database to help control the spread of sheep measles.

The Primary Industries Ministry managed FarmsOnLine and wanted the database details so there could be a swift response in the event of an exotic disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth, he said. “The benefits far outweigh the issues.” . . .

Poppy crop trials continuing - Gerald Piddock:

Australian company Tasmanian Alkaloids is still two to three years away from deciding whether to push for growing pharmaceutical poppies on a commercial basis.

The company has conducted trials of several varieties of the poppies in Canterbury at an undisclosed location, beginning in 2009.

The trials are moving slowly and that decision was still being evaluated, Tasmanian Alkaloids operations manager Rick Rockliff said. . .

Many queries still over plan – Gerald Piddock:

A group of South Canterbury farmers have been left with plenty to ponder as they come to terms with the implications of Environment Canterbury’s Land and Water Plan.

The plan would see new limits brought in on water quality established at a regional and sub-regional level through the zone committees of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.  . .

Rain enough for all but Southland – Annette Scott:

Paddling a kayak out to check on cows has been just one of the challenges faced by southern farmers coping with the rain deluge over the past couple of weeks.

While many regions of the South Island, including Southland, were facing drought conditions following the extreme dry of June and July, that has been rectified at least in Canterbury and Otago.

With up to 300mm of rain recorded in North Otago over the past three weeks, 250mm in South Canterbury and 200mm in Mid Canterbury, most farmers are ready for the sun to dry up sodden farmlands. Southland has capacity for more rain with just 3mm recorded in Gore and 7mm in Invercargill. . .


WDC consents for Mackenzie dairying quashed

July 30, 2010

The High Court has quashed resource consents and certificates of compliance which the Waitaki District Council issued for three cubical dairying operations in the Mackenzie Basin.

The Environmental Defence Society, which brought the action, said:

  “Clearly there has been a failure of public policy at all levels. The Government has failed to provide national guidance; the regional council has failed to identify nationally important landscapes; and the two district councils have failed to develop coherent and effective district plans.

“There is now a real window of opportunity to prepare a long-term Strategic Plan for the area. In our view that should be led by the local community but both Environment Canterbury and the Ministry for the Environment should be involved. It needs to look at the landscape, natural values and social and economic development options for the Mackenzie Country over the next 25 or more years.

The court quashed the consents becasue of an error of process, it did not consider the merits or otherwise of the case.

I wonder if opponents to the application realise the applicants could run the same number of beef cattle without having to apply for any consents at all because pastoral farming is a permitted activity?

Resource consent was needed not for the number of animals but the type of farming. Dairying required the construction of housing and disposal of effluent. Neither of these would apply for free range beef cattle.


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