Car­ry­ing out the water take pol­icy

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery - By ALI TOCKER

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil is plan­ning how it will work with farm­ers re­quired to ap­ply for water take con­sents un­der the coun­cil’s new water al­lo­ca­tion pol­icy.

The pol­icy, vari­a­tion 6 to the coun­cil’s re­gional plan, was en­dorsed by the En­vi­ron­ment Court late last year.

The pe­riod for ap­peals has now passed, clear­ing the way for the coun­cil to be­gin im­ple­ment­ing the pol­icy.

The coun­cil’s re­source use di­vi­sion man­ager Brent Sin­clair said his team was now do­ing de­tailed plan­ning to en­sure farm­ers in dif­fer­ent ar­eas were aware of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties un­der vari­a­tion 6.

The coun­cil will also work with the agri­cul­tural sec­tor to de­velop the most ef­fi­cient way for farm­ers to meet those re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

‘‘In due course, farm­ers will be con­tacted to ad­vise them how to pro­ceed through the con­sent­ing process,’’ Mr Sin­clair said.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers Waikato Branch said it wanted an­swers as soon as pos­si­ble on the key de­tails. Out­stand­ing ques­tions in­cluded how much the re­source con­sents and the mon­i­tor­ing would cost, and who would do the mon­i­tor­ing, the fed­er­a­tion’s Waikato pres­i­dent James Houghton said.

‘‘The scary thing is this has the po­ten­tial to be ex­pen­sive. For a very large dairy farm we ex­pect it will cost about $28,000 for the re­source con­sent and about $10,000 for on­go­ing costs,’’ Mr Houghton said.

‘‘We need to know, will the coun­cil do the mon­i­tor­ing or is it look­ing at oth­ers do­ing that? Is it go­ing to mean more staff will have to be em­ployed by the re­gional coun­cil to do the mon­i­tor­ing?

‘‘We want to en­sure there are pro­duc­tive out­comes from this process and that it is not just em­pire build­ing or rev­enue gath­er­ing by the coun­cil,’’ he said. The fed­er­a­tion is work­ing with the coun­cil and is urg­ing the coun­cil to hold farmer field days through­out Waikato in the next three months to ex­plain the prac­ti­cal ef­fects.

Mr Sin­clair said it had been hard for the coun­cil to get on with more de­tailed plan­ning un­til it had the final court decision and knew there would be no ap­peals.

‘‘How­ever, we are now putting a lot of en­ergy into this plan­ning process,’’ he said. Mr Sin­clair said the coun­cil was look­ing at a range of op­tions for com­mu­ni­cat­ing with farm­ers, in­clud­ing ex­ist­ing farm­ing net­works and or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Fed­er­ated Farm­ers, Fon­terra, Dairynz and oth­ers.

The coun­cil plans to have in­for­ma­tion on vari­a­tion 6 avail­able at the Waikato Ef­flu­ent Expo later this month and at Na­tional Fiel­d­ays mid-year.

‘‘We are also con­sid­er­ing get­ting in­for­ma­tion to farm­ers in dif­fer­ent ar­eas in a phased way, alert­ing them to the need to make con­sent ap­pli­ca­tions,’’ he said.

James Houghton

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