Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Northland council releases freshwater plan for feedback

Northland Regional Council is encouraging people to have their say on a draft plan to improve local freshwater health before the 31 March deadline.

The draft plan includes new rules and targets to improve the health of Northland’s rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater. Tighter rules for managing stock access to waterways and highly erodible land, as well as a policy that would set aside 20% of unallocated water for environmental and cultural enhancement, are among the changes being considered.

Council Chair, Geoff Crawford said the changes being considered could have a big impact on landowners.

“It’s important for people to share their feedback to help us refine the plan so we come out with something that will work for our community as well as our waterways. The more feedback we get, the better informed our decisions will be,” he said.

Council Deputy Chair, Tui Shortland said Council was committed to work closely with tāngata whenua as it progressed the plan.

“Tāngata whenua have responsibilities as kaitiaki and rangatira to protect freshwater, and it’s important that our Freshwater Plan Change supports tāngata whenua to participate in managing freshwater and upholds our obligations as a Te Tiriti partner.”

“That means enabling tāngata whenua to participate actively in freshwater management and decision-making so whānau, marae, hapū and iwi can fulfil their roles and responsibilities through mātauranga Māori, kawa and tikanga. We’re keen to hear feedback on whether our draft achieves that,” she said.

Chair Crawford said Council’s decision to continue with the consultation “made sense”.

“We have major challenges with our freshwater quality. We need a plan for improving the health of our water, and we need input from across the region to help shape the future management of freshwater in Northland,” he said.

The new government has extended the deadline for council to release its proposed plan, the next phase of the process, from 2024 to 2027.

Chair Crawford said the extension meant council was no longer required to release the proposed plan by the end of this year.

“We’ll be using the additional time to continue working with tāngata whenua and the primary sector to develop a balanced approach to freshwater management. This will make sure we are well placed to meet the new deadline and adapt to any future changes the Government makes to national freshwater policy.”

The consultation has already attracted considerable interest, with over 480 people registering for the online hui, and a series of drop-in sessions held around the region between 07 December 2023 and 22 February 2024 to give people an opportunity to find information and ask questions of NRC staff and councillors proving popular.

For more information, and to give feedback online, visit wai-it-matters.nz or email freshwater@nrc.govt.nz.

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