More reporting and a general trend of improvement across many environmental measures are features of the 2022/23 Compliance Monitoring Report.
The report provides an overview of Environment Southland’s compliance, monitoring and enforcement activities. All industries within Southland require a range of resource consents to discharge to air, water, coast and land. These discharges are monitored to ensure compliance with consents and to minimise impacts on the environment.
Environment Southland general manager integrated catchment management Paul Hulse said when action has been needed around consent issues relating to major industries and local authorities, consent holders have generally been engaged and cooperative and have taken actions or are in the process of remediating the respective situation.
“The team’s aim is to maintain and improve the environmental outcomes associated with the activities we regulate for the sustainable management of Southland’s natural resources in partnership with the community.”
In all instances, Environment Southland works with industries or authorities to ensure that spills and discharges are avoided as much as possible, adequately mitigated and resolved, he said.
This year also saw amended winter grazing rules come into effect.
“We continued to work with farmers and industry groups to encourage and enable compliance regarding the rules, and to encourage best practice and positive environmental outcomes around the likes of buffers, slopes, and critical source areas.”
While Environment Southland continues to be pleased with improving winter grazing practice, work has already started on planning for the 2024 season, Paul Hulse said.
During the past year monitoring of industrial and water abstraction consents has increased, and staff have been able to identify and follow up on lower level non-compliance to front-foot issues before they escalated, he said.
“With more legislative changes ahead, there will be continued demand on compliance monitoring. We will continue to review how we best manage this to achieve the environmental outcomes we are striving for.”
Regulatory Committee chairman Neville Cook said an ongoing focus on the 4E’s: Engage, Educate, Enable and Enforce was working well across compliance activities.
“There’s been a co-ordinated and consistent approach across the division, which remains strongly focused on achieving improved environmental outcomes,” he said.
This year the number of incidents reported to the resource management team increased slight from the previous year. In the 2022/23 year there were 1064 incidents (719 public, 345 staff) compared to 2021/22 year which had 880 incidents reported in total (712 public, 168 staff).
Staff completed 933 dairy discharge permit inspections, with 172 aerial and 761 on-site inspections. Of these, 665 were fully compliant (71%), 178 were graded low risk non-compliance (19%), 65 were graded moderate non-compliance (7%), and 25 were graded significant non-compliance (3%).
There were 91 consent-holders who participated in the Dairy Top Performer programme, recognising dairy farmers who have proved themselves with five years of full compliance with all their consents.
The 2022-23 Compliance Monitoring Report is available on the Environment Southland website.