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Published: 2012-09-27 00:00:00

Waikato farmers and other interested parties are being encouraged to have their say, as future opportunities arise, on any possible changes to the Waikato Regional Plan aimed at better protecting water quality in the Waikato and Waipa rivers.

Waikato Regional Council’s land and water quality subcommittee has today received a briefing on the possible implications for Waikato of the recent Environment Court decision on the Horizons Regional Council ‘One Plan’. The court backed the introduction of firm rules on rural land use to help protect water in the Manawatu-Whanganui area from the effects of nutrients used on farms.

The decision came as Waikato Regional Council and its iwi partners are considering their approach to water quality issues in the Waikato and Waipa catchments.

A staff report to the subcommittee on the One Plan decision emphasised the need for “Waikato solutions to Waikato issues” when it comes to protecting water quality in the region.

“What’s appropriate for Manawatu-Whanganui may not necessarily be directly transportable to the Waikato and staff will consider closely what from the One Plan is relevant to us,” policy group manager Vaughan Payne said before the meeting.

“Waikato Regional Council stresses it will be keeping an open mind going forward on what the issues are in our area and the best solutions to address them.”

After the briefing, subcommittee chairman Norm Barker said there would be opportunities for farmers and others, through their representative organisations, to have input into the review process.

“How we can best manage the impacts of land-based activities on farming on our waterways is a complex issue. We’re committed to working closely with all interested parties on charting the way forward in our region.

“Whatever changes are to be made must help us deliver a healthy environment and a healthy economy. I believe the more we can all work together on this the better.”

Cr Barker said the council would be talking directly to its iwi partners and stakeholders about the review process, as well as publicising opportunities for the wider public to have their say.

“By engaging early in the process with the issues – as DairyNZ is doing in the Upper Waikato – we can hopefully save a lot of time in charting the way forward.”