Healthy Rivers plan change affects all
Regional collaboration on two major projects that will have a crucial bearing on the Waikato’s future is entering a key phase.
The Waikato Plan is an overarching blueprint for boosting regional prosperity, while the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Regional Plan Change 1 is designed to protect the health of the Waikato and Waipa rivers.
Both have involved local government, iwi and key stakeholders putting in a massive amount of work together.
Now we’re needing to hear what the public thinks before we collectively move to the next phase.
At time of writing, a joint committee involving local government leaders and stakeholders was due to sign off a draft Waikato Plan for consultation.
The Plan process was kicked off by the Waikato Mayoral Forum, involving mayors and the regional council chair.
The Plan is designed to be a catalyst for a step change in regional performance, enabling councils, business and stakeholders to speak with one voice on key issues in discussions with the likes of central Government.
It’s the first time our councils and partners have joined up to collaboratively address the large scale economic, social and other challenges - and opportunities the region faces.
It reflects a series of agreements between agencies on the top priorities for action and lays the foundation for a detailed and coordinated process to improve regional well-being on a variety of fronts.
High-level priorities expected to include:
· planning for population are change (growth and decline)
· connecting communities through targeted investment · partnering with iwi Maori · addressing issues around the allocation and quality of fresh water
· advancing regional economic development.
Some of the top actions due to be outlined in the Waikato Plan include collaboration on a regional development strategy, identifying regional priorities for service and technical infrastructure, integration of the Waikato and Auckland transport networks and ongoing implementation of the Waikato Means Business economic development strategy.
As a mayoral forum member, it’s extremely satisfying to see a lot of hard work by a lot of people starting to bear fruit.
We know the Plan itself won’t be some sort of magic wand. But, implemented as an integrated package, we can expect the Plan to make a real difference, including making the Waikato an easier place to do business and helping central Government and investors understand our priorities.
The public submissions process is due to open in March so keep an eye out for a chance to have your say.
Meanwhile, the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora public submissions period is due to close very soon on 8 March.
We’ve been getting a good number of submissions already and we know industry sectors have been having information meetings. We encourage people to use these and other information sources to get informed and let us know your views.
This proposed plan change for the rivers has major environmental and economic implications so it’s essential the hearings commissioners hear clearly what people’s views are to help them make the best decision on what’s finally adopted.
· Alan Livingston is chair of Waikato Regional Council and the Waikato Mayoral Forum. The views are his own.
Waikato Regional Council chairman Alan Livingston.