The Land and Water Forum has reported back to Government with a series of recommendation for improving water quality, but has been unable to come to an agreement on nutrient allocation.
Minister for the Environment David Parker and Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor asked the Forum in January for advice on a nationally-driven system for allocating nutrient loads. In its report back, the Forum suggested a staged process for addressing allocation of nitrogen discharges, which would limits on nitrogen in water bodies and an interim national framework to allow transition from current practices.
The Forum also called for a new Land and Water Commission to provide the capability needed for change in addressing water quality. Environmental Defence Society CEO Gary Taylor said this was the most important recommendation in the report.
“There is also a critical role for the Minister for the Environment, with the Forum recommending the use of prohibited activity status or moratoria to ‘stop the rot’ in catchments where water quality is dire and councils aren’t acting fast enough,” he said.
“In some catchments this might mean no more cows until plans are set; in others it might be a short term stop to subdivision.”
Minister Parker told Radio NZ that because the Forum has been unable to reach a consensus, “which means that the mandate passes to central Government and it’s our obligation to actually sort that out”.
“They’ve put themselves in abeyance … we might go back to them in respect of some solutions in the future but in the meantime yes, they’re in abeyance. I think they realise that they’ve come to a natural endpoint, that there are some things that you actually can’t get agreement on through collaboration because of the competing private interests.”
The report’s recommendations have been covered by local media, including:
Newsroom: The end of the Land and Water forum
Radio NZ: Stronger measures needed to protect wetlands – report
NZ Herald: Watchdog needed to halt freshwater decline – forum
Newstalk ZB: Protecting our water