Saturday, March 2, 2024

Fresh approach to freshwater management

Cabinet has agreed to replace the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM).

Environment Minister, Penny Simmonds said the existing National Policy Statement had become extremely complex and expensive to implement and would not deliver the outcomes for freshwater that New Zealanders expect.

She said the coalition Government was committed to improving freshwater quality for the benefit of all New Zealanders by ensuring a sustainable and balanced approach, that works towards improving the environmental outcomes for waterways.

Work on the NPS-FM replacement will start immediately, the Minister confirmed. The process is expected to take between 18 to 24 months and will include consultation with all stakeholders including iwi and the public.

Agriculture Minister, Todd McClay said the Government will develop an approach that is fit for purpose and enduring.

“The farming sector cares deeply about water quality, they take their responsibilities seriously and are committed to meeting environmental obligations,” he said. 

“To avoid unnecessary costs and compliance duplication for councils, Cabinet has decided to remove the requirement for councils to implement freshwater plans by the end of 2024. 

“Instead, effort will be directed towards the development of an enduring and workable NPS-FM, in collaboration with local communities. 

“The Natural Built Environment and Spatial Planning Repeal Bill will include provisions to give councils an extra three years, until 31 December 2027, to notify their freshwater plan changes. This will provide time to replace and start implementation on the new NPS-FM and means that unnecessary costs in relation to the NPS-FM 2020 do not need to be incurred.

“Further work will begin early in the new year to ensure that councils can continue to issue water consents during the NPS-FM replacement period,” said Minister McClay.

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