Session on freshwater

New national freshwater regulations will be discussed at a second meeting to be hosted by Environment Southland in Invercargill and via Zoom on Friday.

It follows a meeting on September 7 between Minister for the Environment David Parker, Minister for Primary Industries Damien O’Connor and council executives, farming and sector leaders and Fish and Game Southland.

An Environment Southland spokesman said it would host a hui with various parties and stakeholders.

One of the topics would be forming a local advisory group, which Environment Southland would facilitate.

The new group would provide advice into the national implementation group, which was established by Mr Parker two weeks ago.

Tony Cleland, who has dairy, sheep and beef farms in northern Southland and is a director for FMG and a farm investment manager for FarmRight, is one of about 35 farmers who attended the first meeting, along with sector group representatives from DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers.

Mr Cleland said the farmers thought using farm environment plans and good management practices would have better economic and environmental outcomes than the new nationally prescribed rules, especially as farmers’ plans were audited regularly.

"They [the plans] have some teeth," he said.

"Everyone in the room agreed they wanted better outcomes for water quality.

"They were keen to be part of the solution and we are looking at how."

There was concern from council and farmer representatives that the new national rules were likely to be impractical, he said.

"It was good for farmers who wanted the meeting to make sure we had better outcomes than what we thought we were getting.

"While the process has been challenging, the group has established a pragmatic way forward, thanks to collaborative input from farmers, industry groups, council and ministers."

Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell said he looked forward to working with the ministers further as they worked through the new legislation.

"The farmers presented a number of areas where they have concerns and highlighted a number of possible solutions," Mr Horrell said.


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