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Chairman Nicol Horrell responds to Federated Farmers position statement

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The position statement released by Federated Farmers today (14 January) is disappointing and could lead to confusion in the community.

Let’s be quite clear, Environment Southland has not put out any new information over the holiday period, nor have we announced any draft limits or targets.

Environment Southland, in partnership with Te Ao Marama, continue to work towards improving freshwater - with specific processes and timelines laid out in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater 2020. The community has also made it clear that they want to see improved water quality in our region, evidenced by feedback provided during our community engagement events such as the Share Your Wai campaign.

The programme to see these improvements started a number of years ago. There are already a number of milestones achieved, and more recently we’ve been able to begin sharing some science modelling results which further add to our understanding.

We’ve taken our current assessment of environmental health, and compared it to our draft freshwater objectives (or goals). A significant improvement on the current state of waterbodies is signalled, rather than any return to a pre-European state. Recently we’ve modelled the reductions in contaminants from waterways that could be required to meet these draft objectives. The numbers from this modelling provide a sense of the scale of change needed but they are NOT limits or targets.

We are required to develop limits and targets, and these will be included as part of updating the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan. We’re aiming to notify this at the end of 2023.

Before then, we will draw together all the environmental science, regional economic analysis, mātauranga Māori (knowledge) and input from Southlanders to develop this plan change. There will be a number of opportunities for the public to be involved and provide feedback.

Environment Southland and Te Ao Marama Inc have been sharing this science information directly with various groups since October, and will continue that approach through this year. This included a briefing to the Federated Farmers executive at the start of November and a number of presentations to catchment and stakeholder groups and community boards. More are scheduled for this year.

By sharing this information now, our intention is to build on good actions already underway in the region, including the work of catchment groups.

The numbers from this latest science modelling are confronting. It’s important that people take the time to understand this information; think about their own activities whether they be on farm, business or in town, and look at any improvements that could be made.

The scale of change needed over the next 25 years is significant, but getting started now and working together will make this challenge far more achievable.

There is more information on our approach to achieving water quality improvements available on our website. There’s also the set of science technical reports and other supporting information on the contaminant reduction modelling -

I encourage you to check out the website, join your local catchment group or get in touch if you have questions.

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