EXTERNAL RELATIONS

The target of the external relations portfolio is to build on community and local government relationships whilst being the advocate for kiwifruit growers on wider issues such as health and safety and resource management.

Decision Action for Healthy Waterways Reforms

The government has announced their final decisions on the Action for Healthy Waterways policy. The government has recognised that fruit production is a low intensity activity which means that the industry is exempt from rules such as a nitrogen cap and intensification. The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM) and the National Environment Standard (NES) are still being drafted and the rules are expected to be operative from July 2020. Analysis of the rules can be found here.

You can read about the wetland regulations here and reporting and monitoring requirements here.

Draft Action for Healthy Waterways Reforms

The Ministry for the Environment released a National Environmental Statement and National Policy Statement for consultation in September. NZKGI reviewed this information to assess impacts for kiwifruit growers and drafted a submission along with consultation with the Water Strategy Working Groups, the NZKGI Forum, Growers, Maori Kiwifruit Growers Forum and HortNZ. You can read the submission here.

Water Take Consent Flexibility

Council understands that the deposit fee required to lodge an application to vary consent conditions is a barrier to growers and have agreed to waive the deposit fee for growers who apply for a variation as a group. The group of applications would be processed as a bundle by the Council to reduce overall costs and actual and reasonable costs would be invoiced following completion of the process. Council will waive the costs if the change is simple and results in a significant reduction in allocation and/or the introduction of telemetry and other modern consent requirements.

If you are interested in this process, please register your interest prior to 30 August 2020 by emailing regadmin@boprc.govt.nz with the following information:

  • Your consent number
  • The flexibility you are looking for
  • Whether you are willing to install or upgrade telemetry (if not currently required by your consent or already in place)

Water Quantity Plan Change withdrawn

The region wide Water Quantity Proposed Plan Change 9 (PC 9) has been withdrawn by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Council). This means PC9 no longer has any legal effect.

PC9 was publicly notified in October 2016 as a first step towards improving the rules around fresh water. Changes within PC9 were developed to replace the existing rules within the operative Regional Natural Resources Plan (RNRP). Proposed changes were primarily concerned with how much surface and groundwater could be taken, proposing stricter limits on takes while also evolving the regulations that govern fresh water use. This was the Council’s approach to start implementing the governments National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS).

On 5 September 2019, the government released their essential freshwater policy for public consultation. The policy sought to halt declining freshwater quality and ecosystem health.

National policy and expectations have therefore evolved since PC9 was notified – particularly in respect of the role tangata whenua should have in fresh water management. The government have has said it will make further decisions on essential freshwater in April 2020 however, until then, Council and water users can only speculate as to the final requirements that will need to be captured in regional policy/plans.

Therefore, on 18 February 2020, Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee decided to withdraw PC9. Resource consents granted under PC9 are still valid and the consent conditions associated with these consents are also valid and must be adhered to.

For growers, this means that the rules under the operative RNRP remain current. Proposed rules under PC9 relating to the registering of permitted takes, changes to permitted take allowances and water metering requirements are therefore on hold however with expectations around water management only increasing under new government policy, growers should not be complacent with their approach to water management. Rules around its availability, efficient use and monitoring requirements will only increase. Ensuring you are measuring your water use through a water meter is your best approach to understanding and optimising your use, provides evidence for GAP requirements and aligns your business with future water management rules that will undeniably be in place in the very near future.

Resource consent is still required for all existing unauthorised water takes and applications will be assessed under the RNRP. Applications to take water from a fully allocated resource will now be processed as a Discretionary Activity as opposed to the ‘generally decline’ clause that PC9 had proposed.

For further detail contact sarah.cameron@nzkgi.org.nz or the Council directly; Sue Simpson, Planning Coordinator Sue.Simpson@boprc.govt.nz, 0800 884 881 ext 8318.