Items of interest from this week's meeting of two key Council committees, Consents & Regulatory, and Policy & Planning:
The Consents & Regulatory Committee and Policy & Planning Committee generally meet every six weeks, on the same day. They are made up of Regional Councillors and external members.
Good progress on improvements
The Council’s monitoring shows a clear pattern of improving trends in the region’s freshwater quality, albeit with variations from year to year, the Policy and Planning Committee was told. The Council is making good progress in achieving requirements set out in a Government Fresh Water National Policy Statement in 2014 and revised last year. There has been particularly good progress in achieving improvements using the resource consent process (requiring dairy effluent to be disposed to land, for example) and non-regulatory initiatives, most notably the riparian management programme. Meanwhile, a review of the Regional Freshwater Plan has already included extensive consultation with stakeholders and the community, with further investigations under way. A proposed new Plan is yet to be finalised and formally notified.
Iwi input sought
The Council will consult iwi authorities over new Government requirements for freshwater monitoring to incorporate mātauranga Māori, or traditional Māori knowledge, the Policy and Planning Committee was told. An internal Council report has identified themes and indicators common to both mātauranga Māori and Western scientific practice, and documented the experience of other regional councils introducing mātauranga Māori into freshwater monitoring.
Good pass-mark for most
Thirty-nine consent monitoring reports were presented to the Consents and Regulatory Committee, covering the performance of 111 consent holders in the 2016-2017 year. Of these, 72 achieved a high level of environmental performance and compliance and 27 were rated ‘good’, while 10 were rated ‘improvement required’ and two were rated ‘poor’. Reporting on compliance monitoring in the 2016-2017 year has now been completed, with a total of 96 reports presented to the Committee. Most cover one consent-holder but many are joint reports based on specific catchment areas or specific activities such as irrigation. Over the whole year, 74% achieved a ‘high’ rating and 21% were rated ‘good’.
Consent compliance monitoring reports
More ecological jewels
Another 12 sites have been identified with biodiversity qualities significant enough for inclusion in the Council’s inventory of Key Native Ecosystems (KNEs), the Policy and Planning Committee was told. Located across the region, eight of them are private parcels of land and four are District Council reserves. They bring the total number of KNEs to 252, of which 199 are in total or partial private ownership. Under the voluntary KNE programme, the Council and landowners work together to protect and enhance indigenous flora and fauna, typically by excluding stock, eliminating pests and protecting waterways and wetlands. The Council prioritises the KNEs for development of specific biodiversity plans and helps landowners source additional assistance from other agencies.
More on Key Native Ecosystems