Feedback on the MfE Roadshow: Essential Freshwater Package

Feedback on the MfE Roadshow: Essential Freshwater Package

Feedback by Kelly Deihl: Environmental Management Solutions

On Tuesday, we attended the MfE meeting in Pukekohe on the recently proposed Freshwater Policies. In a nutshell – it was more frustrating than helpful!

MfE staff gave an extremely high-level overview of the policies, did not address any of the impacts and struggled to answer the simplest of questions. “Good question – we’ll park that and take it back” seemed to be a common response.

We all want clean waterways – I’ve never heard anyone in my career say they don’t – and the majority of landowners are already working very hard towards this. The policies proposed however, do not recognise this and are likely to have a significant negative impact on our national economy and on the livelihoods of everyone, both urban and rural. Yes, urbanites will be hit in the pocket under these proposals too, although the rules are generally targeting the rural sector.

The following key points came through in this meeting:

  • It was confirmed in the meeting by a member of the Freshwater Leaders Group who were integral in developing the proposed Freshwater policies, that they were told explicitly to disregard economic impacts during the Policy development.
  • MfE confirmed that they have not completed a thorough economic analysis on the impacts of the proposed policies. Local Government modelling has however, verified that the impacts are likely to be major. A recent local government economic advisory report indicates that the proposed freshwater policies could put many farmers out of business, with the study confirming that under the current proposal, 68% of the Waikato drystock sector will likely be gone, with an expected 160% increase in forestry (refer Local Government New Zealand Regional Sector Water Subgroup Initial Economic Advisory Report on the Essential Freshwater Package, page 21 paragraph 3).
  • There has been no consideration from what we could gather, on the social impacts of the proposals either. If we use the above example, there is no pay out for ~thirty years in forestry, which in our opinion will likely be sold to foreign investors, not to mention the inability to feed a growing population or respond to market demands, lost export revenue, and most importantly the social aspects – the displaced rural communities, the people who have made considerable investment over generations not only into their land and the environment, but also into the communities in which they live. No consideration has been given to these impacts. Nor does there appear to have been consideration of the potential sedimentation effects when the forestry is removed en masse, they only need to look to Marlborough Paua industry for an example. To completely disregard the social and economic impacts (and to give direction to this effect), and to allow no time for communities to respond thoroughly, is unacceptable. This matter is of national significance, yet there appears to be no real media coverage – why?

    MfE could not answer simple and relevant questions such as ‘how will we provide cost effective, fresh produce to our communities under the current proposals”, to which they responded, “good question, we do need to consider this and will park it for now”.

    Submissions are due by the end of October. To read the documents and to learn how the proposals could affect you, go to: