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‘Waikato solutions to Waikato issues’

A briefing on the recent Environment Court decision on the Horizons Regional Council ‘One Plan’ will emphasise the need for “Waikato solutions to Waikato issues” when it comes to protecting water quality in the region.

Waikato Regional Council’s land and water quality sub-committee will this Thursday receive a verbal staff report on the One Plan decision, which backed the introduction of firm regional council rules on rural land use to protect water in the Manawatu-Whanganui area.

The court process has been watched closely by councils around the country as it concerns the first combined regional policy statement and regional plans to closely manage the impact of nutrients from land-based activities, such as farming, on water quality.

The decision also comes as Waikato Regional Council and its iwi partners are to begin meetings on a draft regional plan change process designed to protect and restore the health of the Waikato and Waipa rivers. The project – dubbed ‘Healthy Rivers – Plan for Change’ – will include limits and targets for nutrients getting into waterways from farms.

“One of the key things we will bear in mind going forward is that there needs to be Waikato solutions to Waikato issues when it comes to protecting the health of our waterways,” said policy group manager Vaughan Payne.

“”The court’s One Plan decision sets firm rules to manage the impact of nutrients on water quality in the Manawatu-Whanganui area.

“What’s appropriate for that area may not necessarily be directly transportable to the Waikato and staff will consider closely what from the One Plan is relevant to us.

“But 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.

“We will work closely with partner iwi and stakeholders, including the farming sector, to ensure we get the best pathway forward for our region, given the need to support a healthy regional environment and a healthy regional economy,” said Mr Payne.

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