Why I voted no to river plan

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - HUGH VERCOE

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil voted on it’s Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Plan change re­cently.

This is the largest pro­posed change to af­fect agri­cul­ture in our his­tory.

The votes were tied 7 for and 7 against. Chair Paula South­gate then used her cast­ing vote in favour and the plan will shortly start its jour­ney through the sys­tem.

Stu­art Hus­band and I were two of the coun­cil­lors to vote against the plan.

No one has any is­sue with the in­tent, be­ing to im­prove wa­ter qual­ity in the Waikato and Waipa Rivers.

Those vot­ing against were still happy that the plan go to the com­mu­nity for sub­mis­sions and what­ever the fi­nal rules are they are a re­flec­tion of com­mu­nity views and the new rules will only take ef­fect from when­ever the plan is fi­nally adopted.

The sin­gle stick­ing point was that it will be near im­pos­si­ble for land own­ers to con­vert to dairy, or mar­ket gar­den­ing, etc as from the end of next month.

No sub­mis­sions, no con­sul­ta­tion, ‘‘we know what’s best’’.

We did try and have the plan re­ferred back to the writ­ers ask­ing them to relook at the sin­gle rule on land use change, but this failed to gain enough sup­port. So where to from here. The plan will be pub­li­cally no­ti­fied some­time end of next month.

The com­mu­nity is then given an ex­tended 80 work­ing day pe­riod to make sub­mis­sions on any pro­posed rule.

Sub­mis­sions can ei­ther sup­port or op­pose. All sub­mis­sions will be con­sid­ered by a fiveper­son panel of in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion­ers who will rec­om­mend changes.

The new rules will di­rectly af­fect ev­ery sin­gle farmer in the

‘‘The sin­gle stick­ing point was that it will be near im­pos­si­ble for land own­ers to con­vert to dairy, or mar­ket gar­den­ing, etc as from the end of next month.’’

Waikato/Waipa catch­ment, in­clud­ing dairy, sheep, beef, forestry, horticulture, horses.

Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the plan is pre­dicted to de­crease the re­gion’s econ­omy by 4 per cent and see thou­sands of jobs dis­ap­pear.

Next year a process will start to bring in sim­i­lar rules to all in the Wai­hou/Pi­ako catch­ments, and the fi­nal phase will be to look at new rules for the towns and ci­ties.

Whether you are a busi­ness per­son in town or some­one farm­ing in the ru­ral area the new rules will im­pact on you, so use your demo­cratic rights, look over the rules and have your say.

Hugh Vercoe, Wai­hou Con­stituent Coun­cil­lor

PHOTO: FAIRFAX NZ

A plan has been passed in­tro­duc­ing new rules to im­prove Waikato rivers.

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