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An information session was held yesterday in Invercargill to help rural professionals get clued up about new freshwater policies.
Hosted by Southern Wide Real Estate Ltd, the event consisted of a presentation by Environment Southland policy and planning manager Lucy Hicks and Federated Farmers Southland vice-president Bernadette Hunt.
The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 updated how local authorities should manage freshwater under the Resource Management Act. It came into force on September 3.
Ms Hicks gave an overview of the changes.
"I’m going to caveat this by saying I will answer your questions as best as I can but to say this is a moving beast would be a massive understatement."
She said the bulk of what was set, including in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, was temporary but "set the bottom line".
"Tweaks"could be made and ES facilitated the establishment of an advisory group to make recommendations for those changes. An announcement on who and what was involved would be made soon.
Council staff had gone through the freshwater package to analyse its involvement in implementation, as well as how it would fit with the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan.
Ms Hunt said the "one size fits all" approach was an issue, and there was no process yet to get a certified freshwater farm plan during the three-step compliance process for winter grazing. This document would be created on-farm and would encourage farmers to think ahead to minimise risk from activity without a resource consent.
She said the rules would be hard to achieve with Southland’s wet weather but farm plans could be farm-specific and were focused on outcomes.
"We’re thinking about water quality outcomes and surely that’s a better way to go."
They could be given for an extended timeframe if a farmer showed good practice.
Ms Hicks said it could take a year for the regulatory framework the plans to be set up.