Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick have today signed a Housing Accord aimed at substantially boosting Rotorua’s housing supply over the next four years.
“Rotorua’s local economy is doing well and the population is growing at a faster rate than in decades but this is putting pressure on housing prices and availability. This Housing Accord will get the Council and the Government working together to free up more land, grow supply and co-ordinate support for people in housing need,” Dr Smith says.
“We’ve agreed a target of 900 dwellings and 1050 sections over the next four years, which will average out to 225 dwellings being consented each year. During the past four years an average of 94 dwellings have been consented each year, so the target is ambitious yet achievable.
“Housing Accords have proved successful in increasing supply in places like Queenstown, Auckland, Nelson and Tauranga. House building activity has grown by 93 per cent, 78 per cent, 55 per cent and 86 per cent respectively in each of these areas since Housing Accords were entered into. They have sped up consenting for new housing developments, support new social housing initiatives, assist councils with infrastructure costs and facilitate joint Council-Government housing developments.
“This Rotorua Accord has been tailored to reflect the unique housing opportunities for the city and supports the Rotorua Lakes Council’s desire to work with iwi to explore options for the development of papakāinga housing.”
Dr Smith says Rotorua MP Todd McClay first raised the possibility of an Accord in June and the proposal was endorsed by Mayor Steve Chadwick.
“This Accord is a game-changer and a real win for Rotorua. I am very pleased the opportunity has been seized upon so quickly,” Mr McClay says.
“These properties will make a big impact locally and provide a welcome release of pressure for the housing market.
“Rotorua’s population is growing, our local economy is booming and unemployment is falling. Now the Council has the tools it needs to ensure that housing supply keeps up with demand,” Mr McClay says.
“I thank and commend the Rotorua Mayor and Council, as well as officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment who have worked hard to conclude this Accord so quickly. We need to maintain this momentum in now identifying Special Housing Areas and complementary initiatives to deliver these 900 homes,” Dr Smith concluded.
The Rotorua Lakes district has been added to Schedule 1 of the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas (HASHAA) Act 2013, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“There is a real will from the Rotorua Lakes Council and the Government to develop a Housing Accord to address increased pressures on the local housing market. The first step to achieving this is adding Rotorua to the HASHAA Schedule.”
Cabinet on Monday approved the move and the decision has been formally gazetted today.
“This scheduling recognises the growth pressures on Rotorua. The local economy is doing well and the population is growing at a faster rate than in decades but this is putting pressure on housing prices and availability. The advantage of a Housing Accord is that it gets the Council and the Government working together on freeing up more land, growing supply and co-ordinating support for people in housing need.
“Housing Accords have proved successful in increasing supply in places like Selwyn, Auckland, Nelson and Tauranga. They have sped up consenting for new housing developments, supported new social housing initiatives, assisted councils with infrastructure costs and facilitated joint Council-Government housing developments.
"The next step for Rotorua is negotiating a Housing Accord. The Government and Council officials are well advanced in this work. It is my ambition to conclude a Housing Accord with the Rotorua Council prior to the election.”
A new pledge by farming leaders to improve the swimmability of New Zealand’s rivers has been welcomed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.
“This pledge from farming leaders shows the real commitment farmers have to tackling these long term issues,” says Mr Guy.
“Farmers are closer to the land to the land than nearly anyone else, and they care deeply about leaving a good legacy for their children.
“Most of New Zealand’s rivers are in a good state but there are a number that need work, and this will take concerted effort by all New Zealanders – including farmers, urban areas, and local and central Government.
“We need to recognise the massive environmental improvements that farmers have made in recent times. In the last five years it’s estimated that farmers have spent over $1 billion of their own money towards environmental measures on farm, with around 98% of dairy waterways fenced off.”
“I welcome this high level commitment from farming leaders,” says Dr Smith.
“It builds on the goodwill and work of the Land and Water Forum and provides the leadership to help implement the ambitious new regulations passed this month on improving water quality for swimming.”
The new National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management was announced on 9 August and introduces a new requirement for rivers to be suitable for swimming. It sets a timetable of 90% of rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2040, establishing a system for monitoring and reporting and requires each of the 16 Regional Councils to set regional targets by 2018.
“The Government has put in place a robust plan for improving swimmability of our rivers and funding to assist in the cost of achieving it. This pledge will help drive the next steps of finalising national stock exclusion rules and the work towards delivering Good Management Practices for the different farming sectors.
“The challenge New Zealand has on improving freshwater quality is not just for farmers. Urban New Zealand will also need to commit to improving stormwater and wastewater systems to achieve the Government’s goals.”
Housing supply in the Nelson-Tasman region has received a major boost with the establishment of 20 new Special Housing Areas (SHAs) with capacity for 1700 homes, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“The regional economy is booming and attracting new investment, jobs and population growth. This growth is welcomed but is putting pressure on housing supply and costs for both renters and home buyers. Opening up these 20 areas for housing and adding 1700 homes to supply is the key to improving affordability,” Dr Smith says.
The Tasman-Nelson SHAs were established as part of the renewed Housing Accords between the Government and the Tasman and Nelson councils in May and June of this year. The Tasman Accord set targets of 800 sections and 1100 homes over the next three years, while Nelson’s has targets of 450 sections and 900 homes over the same time.
The SHAs were approved by Cabinet on Monday and in Nelson are: Bayview Road, Atawhai, 125; Crown Terrace, Britannia Heights, 80; Cherry Avenue, Enner Glynn, 5; Wastney Terrace, Marybank, 20; Quiet Woman Way, Monaco, 6; Upper Trafalgar, Nelson South, 5; Van Diemen Street, Nelson South, 3; Nayland Road, Stoke, 6; Cadiz Court, The Wood, 18; Parklands, Toi Toi, 14; Taylor Estate, Wakapuaka, 80; Highview Drive, Wakatu, 45. In Tasman they are: Sandy Bay-Marahau Road, Marahau, 45-66; Richmond Road, Pohara, 70; Angelus Avenue, Richmond, 30-42; Highland Drive, Richmond, 32; Hill Street, Richmond, 16-23; ApplebyField, Richmond West, 250; The Meadows, Richmond West, 800; Whitby Road, Wakefield, 40.
“I appreciate there is some controversy and concern from adjacent residents about some of these SHAs. I have consistently adopted a policy in approving over 200 SHAs across New Zealand that this is primarily a consideration for Councils in making the recommendation, and that does not change in my home area. We need to carefully weigh up the relative rights of people who would prefer their adjacent area is not developed into housing with the rights of many more people to have access to housing at an affordable price.
“I know from my experience in Christchurch, where the Government opened up large tracts of land for housing, that it has a marked impact on house prices. The median house price in Christchurch is $430,000, with a decrease of 2 per cent in the past year. In Nelson/Tasman the median is $501,500, and increased 11 per cent in the past year. Opening up these additional areas of land for housing will generate genuine competition in the section market and help stabilise prices.
“One of the Richmond SHAs, The Meadows, has a potential yield of 800 homes including a retirement village with 220 villas and a care facility. The adjacent ApplebyFields SHA could yield 250 homes. These are exciting developments which are the start of a large community close to the centre of Richmond, with employment and recreational facilities nearby. I am also in discussions with the Ministry of Education on options for building a new school in this new Richmond West community.
“This opening up of the Richmond West community is particularly welcome news for first home buyers and young families. The flat land makes it much less expensive to develop. Many Nelson families are eligible for KiwiSaver HomeStart grants of up to $20,000 but cannot currently find suitable properties to buy.
“The economic implications of these developments are huge and amount to building a new town the size of Westport. Building activity across the region is already at an all-time high. These housing developments will involve total building and infrastructure work totalling over $800 million and will provide hundreds of Nelsonians with jobs.”
KiwiSaver HomeStart is playing an increasing role in helping home buyers purchase their first property, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The second full year of the scheme has seen 15,400 first home buyers assisted with $75 million of grants, an increase of $10 million over the previous year. A total of 30,943 people have been helped with grants of $148,139,000 since the scheme started in April 2015. They are on track to deliver on the target of 90,000 grants over five years as promised when the scheme was announced in Election 2014.
“The growth in the use of KiwiSaver funds for the purchase of a new house is even more dramatic, growing to $655 million in the second full year, up from $495 million in the previous year.
“The importance of KiwiSaver HomeStart is that the most difficult hurdle to overcome for first home buyers, particularly with low interest rates, is pulling together the funds for a deposit. The scheme has assisted with more than $1.4 billion to date in funds for a deposit for first home buyers.
“We now have all of the key housing data trending in the right direction. House build rates are at the highest level in a decade and 100,000 homes are in the pipeline over the next three years. House price inflation is trending down and is now at the lowest rate for six years, of 3 per cent. We have the proportion of first home buyers trending up and at the highest level since the GFC.”
The Government is seeking public feedback on how to best manage space rocket activity and its environmental impacts in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS), Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“Space rocket launches are a new and exciting industry for New Zealand, which the Government wants to help develop in a safe and responsible way. These latest proposals are about further assisting this technologically advanced industry to grow while ensuring we maintain our high environmental standards,” Dr Smith says.
“The environmental issue from space vehicle launches is that before it reaches orbit, some material is jettisoned and falls back to earth. This material may burn up in the atmosphere but some may land in the waters of New Zealand’s EEZ and ECS, sink and deposit on the seabed.
“The impacts of this have been assessed as small, and the proposal is that this be a permitted activity for all ocean area to the north, east and south of New Zealand, subject to a standard set of conditions. The conditions limit the number of launches to 100, require a 14 day public notification of the launch and flight path, and post-launch reports on the activity.
“We welcome feedback on these pragmatic proposals to extend the area of the oceans in which there might be space rocket debris. There have already been rocket launches from the Mahia Peninsula and the Government wants to provide a practical regulatory regime in which the industry can continue to grow.”
Public consultation is now open and closes on 13 September 2017. A discussion paper and environmental risk information are available at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/marine/regulation-jettisoned-material-space-launch-vehicles
The failure of a further attempt by the Brook Valley Community Group to block the pest control operation in the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary has been welcomed by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.
“The Brook Valley Community Group had a fair hearing in the High Court, and lost. They are now trying to throw a spanner in the works by seeking interim orders to block the pest control operation while they attempt an appeal.
“They know that if they can just keep dragging out the dispute, the Brook Valley Sanctuary Trust will run out of funding. It is good news that this has been rejected. The Trust, having won the substantial case, should now be able to get on with the job subject to a suitable weather window.
“These ongoing legal wrangles are just adding to the costs of the Trust, the ratepayer and the taxpayer. The vision of the sanctuary can be achieved only by successful completion of the pest control operation. These wins by the Trust in the High Court provide reassurance to the community that they are following the regulations properly and that the pest control operation is safe.
“It is time for the Nelson community to get behind the Trust and support this pest control effort to bring to life the vision of a safe haven for our native birds,” Dr Smith concluded.
The Government’s work on unmanned exploration of the inner section of the Pike River Mine drift is progressing and will only be slowed by setting up a new agency, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“Work on unmanned exploration is progressing as quickly as possible. A preferred drill site has been selected, the pipe has been ordered and the new robot technology is due in New Zealand in November. The programme of work of exploring the last 400m of the drift is due for completion by Christmas.”
Prime Minister Bill English gave a commitment to the Pike River families earlier this year that the Government would see through safe, unmanned entry to the area of the drift that had not been accessed.
“This work would be delayed if taken off Solid Energy and given to some new agency. It is a hollow political stunt for parties to promise manned re-entry of the mine by the end of 2018. A political statement does not change the risks in the mine. It would be reckless for politicians to override the 800-page detailed assessment that concluded that manned entry deep into this drift was too risky to life.
“This political commitment of manned entry of the complete drift by the end of 2018 could not be done under New Zealand’s workplace law – a law supported by these very parties. They are either making empty promises to the Pike families or are proposing to water down a law intended to prevent future workplace tragedies.
“There is no cover-up. There is no conspiracy. Pike River was a horrible industrial accident that unnecessarily killed 29 men. The greatest duty we owe the memory of these men is to take the risks of explosions in gassy coalmines seriously and to comply with the new workplace safety laws that stemmed from the Royal Commission of Inquiry.”
Editor’s notes: Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith has delegated responsibility for issues relating to the Pike disaster due to Conservation Minister Maggie Barry being a close family relative of Bernie Monk, the spokesperson for the Pike River Families Group.
Thank you for the opportunity to again address the EDS annual conference, particularly in this pivotal election year.
EDS continues to play an important independent leadership role in New Zealand’s environmental challenges, whether it be the issues of biodiversity, water quality, climate change, marine issues or the RMA. The very announcements I am making today on water quality can be traced back to the initiatives of EDS in 2008 to launch the Land and Water Forum as a stakeholder lead process to advance improved freshwater management.
These are exciting political times and barely a day has gone by this last fortnight without some sort of dramatic fracture through the parties wanting to form an alternative Government. I do wonder whether they could manage the pressures of Government. The further worry is the contradictory positions on key environmental issues of opposition parties wanting to form an alternative Government. On Freshwater, NZ First is opposing nutrient limits whereas others want tighter controls. On Climate Change, Labour wants to extend the ETS, the Greens want to replace it with a carbon tax and NZ First just wants it scrapped. On pest control, the positions on 1080 could not be further apart. The risk is policy deadlock. National offers consistent, steady forward progress.
The current difficulties in the Green Party are not new. It was the ideological positioning with the Alliance in the 1990’s that saw a similar split with the Progressive Greens then that ultimately benefitted National with the establishment of our Bluegreens ginger group. There is an open invitation to Kennedy Graham and David Clendon to join our Bluegreens. They are thoughtful, constructive and genuine environmentalists and it will be New Zealand’s loss to lose this experience.
This afternoon, I want to restate the underlying values of National’s Bluegreen brand of environmental activism.
At our core is our ambition to marry together good economic and environmental policies.
One goes with the other.
You cannot have a strong economy without high environmental standards, but nor can a country achieve high environmental standards without the resources of a successful economy.
We also base our environmental brand on robust science.
That is why as a Government we have ramped up our Research and Development investment, created the ten National Science challenges, appointed a Chief Science Advisor for the PM and most departments and earlier this year finalised an environment and conservation science strategy.
A third strand to our environmental brand is our commitment to a more collaborative approach to resolving environmental disputes.
We do not subscribe to the simplistic view of good guys vs bad guys and we view the courts as a blunt and often counter-productive way to resolve environmental issues.
That is why we have funded and backed the Land and Water Forum that has enabled us to make so much progress on freshwater.
That is why last year we initiated a new collaborative process to advance an NPS on biodiversity.
And that is why we this year amended the RMA to specifically recognise collaborative processes.
The fourth strand of our approach is the importance of stronger national direction.
We have advanced more national regulation, national environment standards and national policy statements than any previous government.
Regurgitating the same arguments 16 times over at regional level or 70 times over with local councils does not work for the environment or the economy.
These regulations have covered telecommunication, contaminated sites, electricity transmission, water metering, air quality and controversially pest control.
We were challenged in the High Court on this approach last month, but with the help of organisations like Forest and Bird, won a comprehensive decision on the legality of taking a national approach to regulating activities like the use of 1080.
We are currently consulting on National Environment Standards covering waste tyres, aquaculture and yesterday we announced a comprehensive standard for plantation forestry.
RMA amendments this year introducing natural hazards as a matter of national importance paved the way to an important NPS on this including climate change.
This will be just one of a number of further national instruments we will advance if we are privileged to be re-elected on September 23rd.
The most important of our National Policy Statements is that on Freshwater, and today I want to announce Monday’s Cabinet decisions from the Clean Water consultation that began in February.
There are five important changes we are making to the new NPS that will be gazetted tomorrow.
These cover much more demanding standards of water quality for primary recreation like swimming, new requirements for ensuring the ecological health of our waterways, more explicit requirements for considering economic wellbeing within limits, tougher requirements for limiting nutrients and algae and the provision for Te Mana o te Wai arising from our work with Iwi freshwater leaders.
There is a strong will from New Zealanders that they want water quality better managed, and that they directly link this to being able to safely swim in their local lake or river.
We cannot hope to deliver on this without a consistent system of grading and reporting. Measuring water quality for swimming in a river is diabolically complicated because the flows and concentration of pollutants vary wildly. That is why few countries do it and only now is New Zealand establishing a comprehensive system to do so.
I acknowledge the Clean Water grading proposals caused confusion and controversy. The proposals were based on a sophisticated grading system that used four statistical measures of river E.coli data, but to avoid the document being excessively complex only one was included in the document, with the others in an associated technical paper. The new NPS now includes all four tests.
There is also more detailed information on the comparative risks of the five gradings. The excellent or blue category is a risk of less than 1%, the good or green category less than 2%, the fair or yellow category less than 3% and the unswimmable categories greater than this.
These risks are calculated on the basis of a random exposure and without a person following the advice of not swimming in flood flows or when surveillance triggers public health warnings. Given the increased surveillance required as part of the NPS, and applying a bit of common sense, the practical risks are considerably less.
I am confident we have these settings in the right place for two reasons.
Firstly, the gradings are near identical to those used in Europe, and they are the only other jurisdiction that grades natural waters for swimming standards. Our lowest swimming standard – the yellow or fair standard, is stricter than their satisfactory grade such that 80% rather than 71% of our rivers and lakes would be swimmable under their system.
Secondly, there is a balance to be found in having swimmable standards that properly protect public health, but nor do I want them to be so cautious that we unnecessarily restrict people from enjoying outdoor recreation.
Another concern that we have responded to is how we can better focus regional councils on improving water quality and working towards the national targets.
The freshwater policy now explicitly requires councils to set regional targets to contribute towards the 90% by 2040 policy, requires them to improve water quality to achieve the target and to regularly report on progress.
A third concern was that the policy is focused on the 54,000km of rivers that are more than 40cm deep and lakes with a perimeter over 1.5km.
This is where the vast bulk of swimming and other activities like rafting, fishing and kayaking occurs. 90% of New Zealand’s catchment areas are covered by the target as smaller tributaries flow into the larger bodies that must be monitored and improved.
However, there are some smaller bodies that are important locally on which we also need to drive improvement.
Whole catchments will now have to improve, regardless of a waterbody’s size. However, the answer to this is not in extending the whole monitoring and reporting framework to every minor creek or stream.
Not only would this excessively drive up the compliance costs, but it would distort the improvement framework. Upgrading 10km of a very small waterway would be a lot easier than 10km of a decent sized river and should not carry the same weight.
Our response is to include a requirement in the NPS for Councils to identify those swimming or primary recreational sites in smaller water bodies, and to develop local plans to improve them.
The last important point on improving water quality for recreation is to note that this policy is not just about improving the proportion that is swimmable from 71% to 90% by 2040, but to improve all categories. We want to increase the excellent grade from 42% to 50% and the good grade from 14% to 20%. It will require every river and lake in the lowest swimmable ‘fair’ category, to be in the higher ‘good’ category by 2040.
To achieve these new NPS targets we will need to improve 1000km of waterways to a higher category every year for 23 years.
The next step is for councils to set provisional regional targets by March and final targets by the end of 2018. We believe the national targets are challenging, but we are also allowing regions to be more ambitious if they wish.
An equally important issue for our waterways is nutrients.
The National Environmental Reporting System under our new Act shows that while E.coli levels are overall static and phosphorus levels are dropping, the amount of dissolved inorganic nitrogen is increasing.
There are two important changes we are making. The first is to make explicit in water bodies with the risk of periphyton growth, it is this that should limit nitrogen levels in the waterway and not the higher level when nitrates become toxic.
The second change is that we have included, on the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum, a new decision-making tree for Councils to determine the necessary limits on nutrients for each catchment.
A key change in the new NPS is the increased emphasis on ecological health.
The Clean Water proposals included a new requirement to monitor macroinvertebrates in our waterways.
The revised and final policy, again on the recommendation of the Land and Water Forum, takes a further step forward.
It now sets a trigger point for action if the MCI drops below 80 and a process for Councils to improve this dimension of our waterway’s health.
Other changes to the NPS includes the recognition of Te Mana o Te Wai, and its integration into freshwater policy making.
There is the inclusion of economic considerations, albeit in a form that now makes explicit that these are within the context of environmental limits.
The monitoring and reporting requirements have also been improved with further advice from freshwater scientists.
This concludes this further phase of reform to our freshwater framework.
We all know, though, that the effectiveness of the NPS in delivering better water quality depends on implementation by our 16 regional councils.
Today I am also releasing two significant reports from my Ministry and the Land and Water Forum on how councils are getting on in implementing the new requirements to put limits in place.
I am encouraged by the progress, but there is much more to do.
The proportion of catchments with limits on water takes was 20% when we became Government but now tops 80%.
We have also seen sterling progress in implementing water metering, with the proportion of water taken now measured up from 25% to over 95%. You cannot manage what you don’t measure, so this progress is critical.
The most complex job for councils is putting in place limits on nitrates.
I was reminded how hard this is when attending the bi-annual meeting of OECD Environment Ministers, in which New Zealand is looked to as a leader in this area.
There were no limits anywhere in New Zealand on diffuse nitrate pollution when we came to Government, and these reports show real progress is now being made. We’ve gone from 4% in 2013 to 8% in 2015 to 20 per cent last year.
I want to conclude by outlining the next steps in our policy programme on freshwater.
The top priority is gazetting the national regulations for stock exclusion. These are close to conclusion but there are a number of important details in the drafting that we need to get right.
The next step is reforming our system of allocation and pricing.
The Technical Advisory Group we established last year is systematically working its way through these issues.
Our Government is not opposed to reform, but wants any new allocation policy to be fair, consistent and workable.
Those who argue water is just like oil or gold and requires a royalty are overlooking the fact that it is a renewable resource of which 98% flows out to sea unused.
Today’s announcement by the new Opposition leader to price all commercial use of freshwater is hollow without stating the price. Labour MP for Napier Stuart Nash has previously said this price should be 10c a litre for all commercial users.
Noting that it takes an average 400 litres of water to produce a litre of milk, that puts the price of milk up by $40 a litre.
You cannot pretend these sorts of new taxes are not passed on to consumer. A new charge at this level would be devastating for New Zealand’s major export industries like dairy, apples, kiwifruit, wine and vegetables that earn over $20 billion a year for our economy. These industries would be hit by a $600 billion cost.
And what’s the fairness in charging wildly different rates depending on the use. If it is more economic to bottle water and export it, rather than spraying it on to a paddock, why would the Government bias the use with different charges.
These unanswered questions just reinforce that the Government’s approach of carefully developing policy in this area through the Land and Water Forum, with the technical background of an advisory group, is the right way forward over policy on the hoof.
Another issue needing resolution is decisions on what infrastructure is to be included in Appendix 3 of the NPS. We plan a process of consultation on this next year.
The last issue is the important work recommended by the Land and Water Forum of developing national best management practice for sectors like dairying, horticulture, beef farming, arable farming, hydroelectricity and land development.
Freshwater improvement will remain one of our top environmental priorities.
There is no difference between the main political parties in a desire to improve freshwater management. The difference is that we have a detailed plan to achieve it.
We look forward to working with EDS, and other stakeholders, in delivering on that plan if we are privileged to lead the Government after September 23rd.
The Government’s new National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management will deliver cleaner lakes and rivers with ambitious new targets for improving their recreational and ecological health, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The new policy confirms the Government’s national target of 90 per cent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040. The policy has been strengthened following consultation by requiring regional councils to set regional targets and regularly reporting on achieving these. This ambitious plan will require 1000km of waterways be improved to a higher grading each year. It is being supported by new national environmental regulations governing activities like fencing stock out of waterways and forestry.
“The new policy also tackles nutrient discharges. It makes explicit that nutrients need to be limited to control algae growth and establishes a new process for regional councils to manage instream levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.
“The ecological health of waterways is important for aquatic life, mahinga kai and recreational fishing. The new policy requires councils to take action when measures of aquatic life drop below newly specified levels.
“The major controversy over the proposals was over the grading system for swimmability, which replaced the old requirement for waterways to be wadeable. The policy now includes all four statistical tests used for determining which rivers are excellent, good, fair, intermittent or poor, and clarifies the risk as <1 per cent, <2 per cent, <3 per cent, >3 per cent and >7 per cent respectively. The Government wants a robust system that protects public health when people go swimming but that is not so cautious as to unnecessarily discourage people from enjoying the outdoors. The only other jurisdiction that grades rivers for swimming is Europe, and our new gradings are stricter.
“This is the latest step in the Government’s ongoing reforms to improve freshwater management. We introduced national water metering regulations in 2009, the first NPS in 2011, the Freshwater National Objective Framework in 2014 and these changes that are focused on primary contact, ecological health and nutrient management.
“The cost of meeting these new water quality improvements is $2 billion, which will fall on farmers to fence waterways and reticulate stock water, councils in improving their wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and taxpayers. The Government has invested $400 million in freshwater cleanup projects, including the 33 projects announced yesterday.
“The new NPS will be gazetted tomorrow. Councils have until 31 March 2018 to set preliminary regional targets, and until the end of 2018 to finalise their contribution.
“The effectiveness of the NPS in delivering better water quality nationwide depends on regional council implementation. Today I am releasing reports from my Ministry and from the Land and Water Forum (LAWF) on implementation that show progress is being made. There were no nitrate limits when National came to office but now these are in place in 20 per cent of catchments. The proportion of catchments with limits on water takes has grown from 20 per cent to more than 80 per cent.”
The next steps for the Government are finalising the details of the national stock exclusion regulations and developing new policy for the allocation and pricing of freshwater, with the Technical Advisory Group reporting in December.
“The only reason we have been able to make such significant progress on these freshwater reforms is because of the work of LAWF. I wish to acknowledge the 63 member organisations who have worked collaboratively on these proposals over many years.”