Published: 14 June 2017
A partnership between Environment Southland and major dairy industry players to support farmers needing to improve effluent management practices is a finalist in the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) EXCELLENCE Awards.
Now in their fourth year, the Awards recognise and celebrate the key leadership role that local government plays in communities around the country.
The Southland Dairy Effluent Advisory Group is a finalist in the Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact.
It sees the council working with industry organisation DairyNZ, and dairy companies Fonterra and Open Country Dairy, to provide advice to farmers struggling to comply with discharge consents.
Environment Southland compliance staff found that many seriously non-compliant farms could have been identified earlier through indicators present at previous inspections.
Members of the Advisory Group have specialist staff equipped to offer technical advice and break down any communications issues between the consent holder and Environment Southland.
Since the establishment of the Advisory Group, the significant non-compliance rate has dropped from 14 per cent to 1.7 per cent.
The Award judges described the Advisory Group project as “a very good project with potential to be used as a model by other regions”.
Judges said this project had a demonstrable impact in helping dairy farmers lift their environmental performance.
“Through working with business partners and regulators they have identified those posing the biggest risks and worked with them to lift their game, with outstanding results. This project is replicable and every regional council in New Zealand could follow this example.”
They said the Environmental Impact category was the strongest in 2017, dealing with real issues around rivers, water and biodiversity. A number of the entries were in the very early stages but with excellent strategy and processes in place the judging panel looked forward to seeing the results of these projects in coming years.
LGNZ President Lawrence Yule said the finalists in the EXCELLENCE Awards showcased outstanding leadership being provided by local government throughout the country.
“Local government is at the centre of every community in New Zealand, helping shape the environment in which we work and play,” Mr Yule says.
“Being named as a finalist is a great achievement and reflects the vision shown by councils and the innovative work being done by staff. The finalists include some truly exceptional projects that are having a profound impact on communities.”
Local authorities were invited to submit award applications in five categories:
Judges for the awards are former Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast, Chair of EQC Sir Maarten Wevers and The New Zealand Initiative’s Executive Director, Dr Oliver Hartwich.