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by Greta Yeoman

South Canterbury residents interested in freshwater will be able to share their views with the Ministry for the Environment today.

Representatives from the ministry will be in Timaru at Phar Lap Raceway from noon-2pm and 6pm-8pm on Thursday, as part of a national roadshow regarding recently announced freshwater policy proposals.

The Government announced its policy package regarding ways to better look after New Zealand’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands, as well as policies around productive land, and strategies to deal with harmful waste and chemicals.

Environment Canterbury’s strategy and planning director Katherine Trought told The Courier last week that the freshwater proposals would not affect the proposed Plan Change 7 policies that had been up for public submission until Friday last week.

Environment Canterbury’s strategy and planning director Katherine Trought

“The Government’s proposals in the Action Plan for Healthy Waterways are at the start of the public consultation process .. [and] Proposed Plan Change 7 is currently in the middle of the formal RMA process.”

If, however, the Government reached the stage of publishing a new policy statement around the proposals before the PC7 hearing panel delivered its recommendations, the panel would consider the contents of the Government’s policies when preparing the recommendations, she said.

Ms Trought said there were “no surprises” in the contents of the Government’s freshwater proposals, which included actions that were already in the works in Canterbury under Plan Change 7 and other water management policies.

“For example, we have been working with the farming community to bring down nutrient limits for nearly a decade.”

“Land use consent to farm, farm environment plans (FEP) and independent FEP audits have been features of our planning regime for some time.

“We have in place rules around stock exclusion and winter grazing, and the farming community has responded to these as they have been introduced.”

“Canterbury is well down the track already, with changes through our plans and the community’s response.”

For more information about the Ministry for the Environment’s freshwater policy proposals or to share your thoughts, visit www.mfe.govt.nz/more/consultations.