Environment Canterbury has formally accepted at a Council meeting the recommendations from a hearing panel on the proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan and proposed Plan Change 3 to the Natural Resources Regional Plan.
“The proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan is the first to be developed to implement the community recommendations from a zone committee set up under the collaborative Canterbury Water Management Strategy,” said Environment Canterbury Commissioner Peter Skelton.
“It shows how the vision and principles of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy – which seeks the best uses of water within an environmentally sustainable framework – can be incorporated in a formal regulatory plan prepared under the Resource Management Act.”
“We are satisfied the proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan will help to achieve the water management priority outcomes – including the environmental goals – identified by the local Hurunui-Waiau committee, and reflects the integrated approach to water management in the zone,” said Peter Skelton.
“The panel of commissioners used the Hurunui-Waiau committee’s recommendations as a starting point for their considerations, while taking into account the requirements of the Resource Management Act and high-level policy documents.
The Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee – which was established in July 2010 – completed its Zone Implementation Programme (ZIP) in July 2011. The programme – which contained 66 recommendations for water management – was developed by the zone committee during extensive discussions and engagement with local community members, interest groups, stakeholder groups as well as the wider Canterbury community.
“The panel’s decisions retain the high-level outcomes and intent of the zone implementation programme. While there are a number of changes recommended to the Plan, these effectively change the way that these outcomes are to be delivered, not the outcomes in themselves. In particular the decisions seek to retain the balance between allowing for further irrigation development and maintaining in-stream values.”
Under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy 10 local committees were set up to find local solutions for water management via a collaborative process. This process has the full backing of Environment Canterbury and all district and city councils in Canterbury, as well as Ngai Tahu.
Peter Skelton said the focus for the Hurunui-Waiau and other water management committees has been to find solutions for water management issues that all parties can accept. “The committees were set up to reflect and find consensus within communities and Environment Canterbury and other councils have accepted every recommendation from the 10 local committees as well as the Regional Committee.”
Some of the Hurunui-Waiau zone committee’s recommendations have already been incorporated into Environment Canterbury and Hurunui District Council’s work programmes. A number of recommendations, however, required implementation through a Resource Management Act plan and are now reflected in the proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan.
The proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan sets a load limit for nitrogen and phosphorus in the Hurunui River catchment which aligns with key recommendations from the zone committee.
The Plan requires all farmers to sign up to a collective audited self-management scheme, and prepare a farm environment plan from 2017, which also aligns with the committee’s recommendations for best practice farming programmes.
The proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan supports the Waitohi River as a preferred location for major water storage and prohibits damming of Lake Sumner and the South Branch of Hurunui River. It also changes the minimum flows for both the Hurunui and Waiau rivers.
The panel of commissioners for the proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan was the Hon Peter Salmon QC (chair), Rauru Kirikiri and Robert van Voorthuysen.
In their decision the panel of commissioners commented directly on how they had taken the zone committee’s recommendations into account and said:
“Submitters raised the question of the weight to be given to the Zone Implementation Plan (ZIP). The ZIP was the result of an extensive period of local discussion and consultation. The pHWRRP is an outcome of that process. We are entitled, but not obliged, to take the provisions of the ZIP into account. We appreciate that there is an expectation amongst those who provided input to the ZIP that the pHWRRP will implement the ZIP’s provisions. Insofar as this is possible, whilst complying with the obligations imposed by documents to which regard must be had or provisions which must be implemented, this is a reasonable expectation. However, as already noted, where the expectations of the ZIP are at odds with the requirements of the Resource Management Act, or higher order documents, the latter must prevail.”
Notification of the proposed Hurunui Waiau River Regional Plan and background
The proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan and proposed Plan Change 3 to the Natural Resources Regional Plan will be notified on Saturday April 27.
Any person, who made a submission on the proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan or proposed Plan Change 3 to the Natural Resources Regional Plan, has the right to appeal decisions on their submissions to the High Court, but only on questions of law. Any Notice of Appeal must be filed with the High Court within 15 working days of receiving notice of the Council's decisions.
The proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan was originally notified on Saturday October 1, 2011. A number of persons lodged submissions on the Plan and Plan Change 3. The Council then notified a summary of the decisions requested in those submissions and called for further submissions by February 27, 2012. A hearing of submissions on the Plan and PC3 was held between the October 29 and the December 6, 2012.
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