Industry body DairyNZ is calling on the Board of Inquiry into the Ruataniwha Dam proposal to direct the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to set a nitrogen limit through a plan change process.
DairyNZ’s senior policy advisor Oliver Parsons says that’s the best way to achieve the intent of the Board’s decision.
“This has been outlined in DairyNZ’s comments on the draft decision, due today.
“We support the Board’s vision for sustainable growth within sound environmental bottom lines. But from an implementation perspective, it is clear that parts of the draft decision would make this impossible.
“Instead of sustainable growth, the draft decision would require a 40 percent claw-back on existing rural production. In a community that has already suffered from years of economic decline and is stretched to the limit, that just doesn’t make sense and goes against the purpose of the Resource Management Act,” says Oliver.
“We agree with the Board’s statement that a more detailed analysis of dissolved inorganic nitrogen might justify a different limit,” he says. “So let’s do that analysis and do it well.”
The Board can direct the limit to be set immediately through a focused plan change process led by the council. This would give the community and everyone involved the opportunity for much more detailed examination of the evidence, more transparency and more community participation, he says.
Oliver says the Tukituki Catchment Proposal involved 28,000 pages of evidence covering 18 resource consents and the full suite of environmental rules. “That meant that there was not enough time to cover a lot of the water quality evidence. Even the short hearings process was enough for NIWA, the Cawthron Institute and regional council scientists to raise major concerns about the approach used to justify the draft limit,” he says.
“The Board was left relying on data from a different river, that has never been peer-reviewed or published and has a total lack of rigour or transparency,” he says.
“We owe it to the community to put together a plan that can be fully implemented. The future of Central Hawke’s Bay is too important to leave up to science that has never been tested. The risk of getting it wrong is too great.”
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