Submissions on freshwater policy close tomorrow.
Federated Farmers has advice on how to submit here.
My submission is:
The goal of cleaner waterways should not be up for debate.
But how clean, how quickly and at what cost is.
1. I support the requirement for Farm Environment Plans.
The North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) requires independently audited FEPs from all farms it supplies as a condition of its consent and this works well.
2. All regulation must balance environmental requirements against the financial and social costs.
a) The North Otago Irrigation Scheme has had significant environmental, economic and social benefits.
i) Before irrigation there were four houses on our farm and the two immediate neighbours’. There are now 16, most of which are occupied by young families.
ii) This development has been repeated all over the district which is now drought-proofed.
iii) New on-farm jobs have been complimented by the creation of jobs for people who service and supply farmers.
iv) This has resulted in a significant economic and social boost to the Waitaki District and the town of Oamaru.
v) The consent condition included the supply of water to the Waiareka Creek. What used to be a series of stagnant pools most of the year is now a clear-flowing stream all year.
vi) The consent condition requiring farm environment plans which are independently audited each year has allowed development to proceed while protecting soils and waterways.
vii) This sort of development and the environmental, economic and social benefits which have resulted from it would not have been able to be done if the policies proposed had been in place.
viii) New policy must ensure new irrigation schemes can go ahead.
3. Regulation based on effects is better than prescriptive policy which will stymie development.
4. All policy must take into account the ability of farmers and councils to implement and monitor requirements.
i) It would take years to build up the workforce of suitably trained and skilled advisors, consultants and council staff required to implement and monitor the proposed policies.
5. Policy must not take a blanket-approach to regulation.
i) Different catchments and different areas within catchments require different policies.
II) Different climate, different topography, different soils, different gradients require different treatments within catchments.
6. Policy working towards cleaner waterways must balance social and economic factors with environmental ones.
i) Primary production plays a significant role in the economic and social wellbeing of New Zealand.
ii) Anything which harmed that would not just make individuals and communities poorer it would make New Zealand poorer thereby reducing its ability to pay for environmental improvements.
7. Policy working towards cleaner waterways must address the problem of fouling by colonies of birds.
i) Testing by the Otago Regional Council has found high E Coli levels in the Kakanui River are due to sea gulls, many of which are protected.
ii) This is not peculiar to the Kakanui River, fouling by protected species and other birds, including game birds, happens all over the country.
iii) I accept the need to leave protected species alone during nesting but we will never get clean waterways if they return year after year. Policy must allow action to re-locate nesting areas well away from waterways.