Local Government New Zealand’s (LGNZ) Regional Sector welcomes the introduction of new freshwater regulation, saying it’s time to look closely at the on-the-ground implementation measures that will be vital to achieve the freshwater improvements sought by both local and central government.
The Regional Sector is comprised of the 16 Regional and Unitary councils who, among a range of responsibilities, act as environmental regulators.
“We share the aims of the Government and our communities, to improve the quality of our freshwater, and implementation is key to this,” says Regional Sector Chair Doug Leeder.
“Our sector is a key part of the solution and now that the changes have been set in law, our focus has turned to how we can give effect to the revised National Policy Statement and new National Environmental Standards and regulations. This won’t be straight-forward given the shortage of highly skilled workers needed to implement these reforms, but we know how important this work is for New Zealand.”
“This includes scientists, policy planners, and consent and compliance advisors, as well as the need to increase our environmental monitoring reporting, all of which need funding in upcoming Long Term Plans and therefore discussion with our communities.”
“Regional councils are acutely aware of the significant new regulations coming into effect on some farming activities and will be working to ensure our rural communities are aware of their obligations, but we encourage landowners to be proactive in understanding these.”
“Throughout the consultation process, the Regional Sector has stressed the need to focus on implementation, and the need for partnership between iwi, the Crown, and regional councils, and that’s more important than ever before. We are particularly focused on the obligations to give effect to Te Mana o Te Wai.”
“Only tangible changes will deliver this ambitious programme, and that includes more accredited staff to audit farm plans, more resources to widely monitor activity and enforce new rules, and working with the National Science Programme to support regional waterway challenges.”
“As we’ve said all along, non-regulatory measures are also an important way to improve the quality of our freshwater. The funding for projects through the Jobs for Nature programme is a big opportunity to support and expand riparian planting and fencing, and wetland protection and restoration, that will pay dividends for freshwater quality,” continued Mr Leeder.