Growers urged to have say on water plan
Submissions on the Healthy Rivers/ Wai Ora plan change are due Wednesday, with implications district-wide. Pukekohe grower Brent Wilcox explains why.
Brent Wilcox is part of the third generation of his family to grow vegetables in the Pukekohe region.
‘‘We’ve been growing vegetables in the area since the 1930s. Like a lot of the vegetable enterprises, we’re a family businesses and multi-generational.’’
He says the industry has shifted over the decades, growing with each generation.
’’Similar to a lot of primary industries these businesses have consolidated as they have grown and where there were a lot of smaller operations there are now fewer larger entities. They have also grown and spread from central Pukekohe to further south into the Waikato area,’’ he says.
Healthy Rivers/ Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 represents one of the largest series of changes his sector has seen.
’’We work on a rotational system. We’re now growing crops in areas which allow us to provide for our customers throughout the year. It used to be what you could provide in a seasonal basis but we now look at what crops we can grow around the region or within our district to meet demand year round.’’
He said the Healthy Rivers proposed plan change would make the flexibility to move crops around the region based on seasonal demand and the optimal growing conditions provided by different areas, much more challenging for growers.
’’I think the sector has certainly signed up to the process, we’re prepared to play a role in the process of creating Healthy Rivers, the questions are when it comes down to the details and what does that mean in practice on the ground.’’
The dynamics are complex and he believes blanket rules on land use change and units are not the best way to address water quality.
’’I think we need to be looking at the factors that will create the most impact in relation to water quality as opposed to just blanket provisions.’’
Submissions on the proposed plan change close on March 8.
’’It’s an important issue for our industry. It will affect the way our growers operate into the future.
‘‘The impacts are potentially major for our sector as they are for most land users. People need to have an understanding of what the implications are for their business and have a view on what the changes should be. They need to voice their views. The way they can do that is by submitting on the plan.’’
Go to www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/ healthyrivers.
‘‘The impacts are potentially major for our sector as they are for most land users. People need to have an understanding of what the implications are for their business and have a view on what the changes should be’’
Brent Wilcox says the plan will affect the way growers operate in the future.