Request for pause of plan change denied

Federated Farmers is "not hitting the panic button just yet" as milk prices tumble. Photo by...
Federated Farmers in Southland has become increasingly concerned with the stress and concern farmers have over water plans. Photo: Peter McIntosh
An attempt by Federated Farmers in Southland to slow down proposed plan changes has been declined.

The farming group had written to Environment Southland (ES) asking for a pause in plan change Tuatahi.

The plan change centres on the development of a cohesive and practical plan to provide for the health and wellbeing of water bodies, within a generation.

Federated Farmers in Southland had become increasingly concerned with the stress and concern farmers have with the timelines and pressure regarding notification of the land and water plans as well as a raft of other regulation.

It was concerned at the significant investment of resource and effort being put into the plan change process when a change of direction was considered likely from the new government.

Federated Farmers Southland had been in discussions with likely members of the new government to seek an extension to the timelines of regional land and water plans as a first step for new ministers.

But ES had written back to Federated Farmers, saying it is continuing the process.

In the letter, penned by ES chairman Nicol Horrell and chief executive Wilma Falconer, Federated Farmers was thanked for highlighting concerns regarding farmer wellbeing in light of the national economic situation and new regulation, and noting the potential for change in national direction.

"While the national regulatory framework may change, the underlying need for continued improvement in environmental outcomes in the region remains an imperative," the letter said.

"This means we will work with our partners, stakeholders and communities to develop an approach that takes us significantly forward in terms of improving environmental outcomes, but is also pragmatic and tailored to this region and its communities.

"We have been working to respond to our environmental challenges for many years now and our communities are asking for leadership and certainty. We believe that the emphasis needs to be on developing a sensible, implementable approach collectively for our people, environment and economy, and we are open to discussions with central government about timelines around the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management."

Federated Farmers Southland chairman Chris Dillon said yesterday ES was going down a track which was wasting "their time and ours".

He said the staff may want the changes but many councillors agreed with the farmers.

The process had first started in 2016 and there was still a way to go. Mr Dillon said with changes signalled by the new government in resource management things may be different when the process continued after Christmas.