Toasting the success of their water quality agreement with glasses of water are (from left) Lower Waitaki-
South Coastal Canterbury Zone Committee chairman Robin Murphy, Environment Canterbury technical lead Ned
Norton, Waihao Rununga representative Pauline Reid, Environment Canterbury commissioner Tom Lambie and
Nitrogen Allocation Reference Group leader Colin Hurst. Photo by Sally Brooker
Compromise and co-operation are being hailed as the main
ingredients in a South Canterbury agreement on nitrogen
Farmers in the Lower Waitaki-South Coastal Canterbury
catchment had asked their Environment Canterbury zone
committee for more time to work on allocating nitrogen
emissions, within the maximum already set to meet the goals
of a healthy environment and vibrant economy.
Since February, the farmers have held more than 10 meetings,
with ECan supplying technical advisers. After fearing they
would not agree, they eventually did.''
It hasn't been an easy process,'' Makikihi arable farmer and
South Canterbury-North Otago Federated Farmers grain and seed
chairman Colin Hurst said.''
Everyone had to give a bit. We've got a really good
Mr Hurst, who led the farmer meetings, said ''the spotlight
was on us nationwide - it was a new way of doing it''.
Based on soil types, farmers in the Waihao Wainono area would
be allowed to emit up to 10kg of nitrogen per hectare a year.
In the Northern Streams area, they could emit up to 15kg.
When the Wainono Lagoon was augmented with extra water from
the proposed Hunter Downs irrigation scheme, or through some
other source, the Waihao Wainono farmers would be allowed to
increase their nitrogen emissions up to 15kg.
All farmers had to adopt ''good management practice''. They
would be able to set up formalised collectives to average
emissions across their properties within subcatchments,
provided none exceeded the maximum.''
We're drawing a line in the sand, saying high-emitting
activities on light soil is not on,'' Mr Hurst said.
Last Wednesday, the agreement was presented to the zone
committee's meeting in Waimate. Applause erupted from the
public gallery when it was accepted unanimously.
The agreement will be presented to ECan tomorrow and, if
approved, signed off by its commissioners on August 7.
It will then be presented to the Waimate District Council on
September 16, the Waitaki District Council the following day,
and to the wider public at a date yet to be set, probably in
Federated Farmers national president William Rolleston, a
South Canterbury farmer who attended the Waimate meeting,
said the outcome gave all farmers opportunities. It did not
undermine the activities of the high emitters or the land
values of the low emitters.
''The Environment Canterbury staff and Colin have done an
outstanding job,'' Dr Rolleston said.
Zone committee chairman and Glenavy farmer Robin Murphy said
he was ''really thrilled how the total community got together
to work out how it's going to happen''.
''These are exciting times.''
He urged the farmers not to ''disband'' but to ''stay on top
''If we've got something wrong, I hope we're big enough to
sort it out. It's a real opportunity.''
ECan commissioner and zone committee member Tom Lambie said
he envisaged the process used in this case becoming a
template for other parts of the district.
- Sally Brooker