Decisions on Hinds water plan
Environment Canterbury announced today that Council had accepted the recommendations of the Independent Hearing Commissioners on the Hinds Plan Change, proposed Plan Change 2 to the Land & Water Regional Plan.
Commissioner Peter Skelton said the Hinds/Hekeao Plains area is one of the most productive in Canterbury.
“The availability of plentiful clean water has been one of the critical ingredients to the catchment’s economic success,” Professor Skelton said. “Water resources are now showing signs of stress, however. Nitrogen levels are high and increasing, and water availability is decreasing. Waterways regularly dry out in summer and aquifer levels have dropped, affecting ecosystems and the reliability of domestic water supplies and irrigation.
“These trends have not only had a negative effect on cultural and ecological values, they have also affected the reliability of supply for people who take water for domestic and other purposes.
“The community and the Ashburton Zone Committee have been at the forefront of finding ways to turn these trends around,” Professor Skelton said. “The big challenges have been to find means of reducing nutrient discharges and increasing water in the system, while still maintaining a vibrant agricultural community and economy. Addressing over-allocation and meeting national environmental bottom lines have been key to this work.”
The Plan Change sets limits, targets, timeframes and additional policies and rules on water quantity and quality in the Hinds/Hekeao Plains area. A schedule lists farm management practices relating to nutrient management, winter grazing of intensively farmed stock, cultivation and collected animal effluent.
Until the Plan Change becomes operative, activities in the area must comply with the region-wide rules in the Land & Water Regional Plan, as well as the specific sub-regional rules that apply in the Hinds/Hekeao Plains area.
The Plan Change will be subject to an appeal period of 15 working days. Appeals (on points of law only) can be filed in the High Court. Once any appeals have been resolved the Plan Change in its final form will be made operative.
Further plan changes for other catchments are at different stages in the process, with significant current announcements on nutrient management by farmers generally and the Waitaki sub-region in particular.
“Excellent progress has been made with our planning work in the last few years,” Peter Skelton concluded. “In partnership with the community, we are well on the way towards completing catchment-focused rules for the whole region.”
For more information on the Hinds Plan Change, go to www.ecan.govt.nz/lwrp-v2
For information on the Land & Water Regional Plan, including new rules on nutrient management, go to www.ecan.govt.nz/lwrp