Here’s a “back of the envelope” list of environmental issues that will confront our councils over the next term. Wow! Did you hear much of this discussed during the recent campaigns? I think not.
While the Regional Council will bear the heaviest load, the Hastings and Napier Councils carry a fair share as well.
Feel free to add issues of your own.
In the Regional Council’s domain …
- Re-write of the Regional Resource Management Plan — here’s where tough standards and expectations will be written into enforceable form for the long term … or not.
- CHB water harvesting — will it be technically and economically feasible, AND environmentally acceptable?
- CHB sewage treatment consent — some effluent will go on land, but some will still flow into the Tukituki … how much and under what conditions?
- Land use intensification in HB — is the HBRC’s land care staff up to the task of “selling” more sustainable farming practices to farmers?
- Napier consent for sewage disposal — maybe HBRC will ask the tough questions it failed to ask Hastings, using the same system.
- Adoption of Maori co-governance scheme for natural resource decision-making — there’s a new equal partner coming to town folks.
- Resolution of Taharua dairying pollution — how long will it take HBRC to do what obviously needs to be done?
- Implementation of PM10 air pollution standard — can reduction of the health-damaging pollution be accelerated?
- Environmental vision in HBRC future scenarios — alternative long-term growth scenarios will become public in November … what environmental future will they paint?
- HBRC response to National Land & Water Forum report — more than a regional talkfest will be required to address the critique and recommendations in this landmark report.
- Ongoing monitoring of HBRC awarding of water takes — every time you look the other way, the HBRC gives away water.
- Promotion of soil-enhancing farming practices — expanding the existing toehold in Hawke’s Bay for biological farming.
- Resisting introduction of GMOs into Hawke’s Bay.
- Follow-up and monitoring of issues raised by latest HBRC State of the Environment Report.
For Hastings Council …
- Ensure adequacy of Hastings sewage treatment scheme — what is actually going into the Bay? With what consequences?
- Ensure Hastings compliance with new stormwater discharge consent — will HDC live up to the tough regime newly imposed by HBRC?
- Secure drinking water for Havelock North from environmentally benign source.
- Confirm a plan for addressing Haumoana coastal erosion — the time for Council tap dancing is over.
- Curtail HDC-sanctioned foul discharge onto Waimarama Beach.
- Monitor environmental impact aspects of scheduled District Plan re-write.
- Address issues raised by latest HDC State of the Environment Report.
For Napier Council …
- Pursue better solution to Westshore erosion — NCC is on a track doomed to fail.
- Address stormwater run-off into the Ahuriri estuary.
For District Health Board …
- Examine public health impacts of agricultural chemical use.
- Play more proactive role on other environmental health issues, like air and water quality.
In the pipeline from Wellington, with major repercussions in Hawke’s Bay …
All of these initiatives — and councils’ advocacy — must be monitored and lobbied, where appropriate:
- Proposed National Environmental Standard (NES) for on-site wastewater systems.
- Central government study & proposed NES on soil contamination.
- Central government response to the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum.
- Proposed NES on freshwater management.
- Proposed low flow standards protecting freshwater ecosystems.
- Any new or expanded roles and powers for new Environmental Protection Agency.
- Promote eco-tourism in the region — needs more development and marketing emphasis.
- Rationalize councils’ spend on environmental education — they all throw ratepayers’ money at the wall … does any of it stick?
- Support for key DOC conservation/biodiversity projects in our region — important work that needs more visibility and support.
- Protect the independence of environmental decision-making in any efforts to amalgamate councils.
- Educate/lobby MPs on national and regional enviro issues — like the economic value of ‘green’.
- Encourage mind-set change for area businesses and councils with respect to incorrectly perceived environment versus economy trade-off.
These issues would be addressed best if there were strong and effective environmental advocates amongst the Councillors themselves (but can you name any?), and if the Councils pursued many of these matters in a coordinated way (but history to date says: fat chance!).
It’s going to be a tough three years for the region’s environment.