Items of interest from today's Policy & Planning Committee meeting:
Protecting coastal wildlife from dogs
In its role as advocate for indigenous biodiversity in Taranaki, the Council has made a submission(external link) on the New Plymouth District Council’s Proposed Dog Control Policy and Dog Control Bylaw 2021. The Council was generally very supportive of the proposed amendments, recommending minor changes to further improve biodiversity protection in the coastal environment. The Council supported additional leashed control restrictions to better protect threatened and rare species such as kororā (little blue penguin), red-billed gulls and white fronted terns that are vulnerable to dog attacks or disturbance. It suggested extending these to all year round (as opposed to the current 'August to April' restrictions). The Council strongly recommended dogs be prohibited off leash after dark at significant penguin nesting and roosting sites all year round and suggested NPDC officers consider sites mapped on the TRC Biodiversity portal(external link) to complete this. It also supports amendments to include two new prohibited areas to enhance protection of kororā.
Old man's beard control programme
Steady progress is being made by the Council controlling Old man’s beard along a 70km stretch of the Waingongoro River. Old man’s beard is a sustained controlled pest in the Regional Pest Management Plan for Taranaki(external link) with rules requiring its control in all areas except within 50m of the Pātea River downstream of State Highway 3 and the Waingongoro River downstream of Ōpunake Road. In these areas, the Council will carry out initial control of infestations, with land occupiers then responsible for ongoing control. Waingongoro River work began in spring 2017 as a rolling programme involving about 100 properties. Contractors have completed about 27km, mainly on foot. Since 2020, progress has been slow but steady as the focuses was on areas with about 2km of near vertical and inaccessible riverbanks, requiring specialist abseil contractors. It is estimated initial control will be completed by 2026, within the original 8-10 year timeframe.
Council welcomes Ngāruahine Kaitiaki Plan
Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust today presented its Ngāruahine Kaitiaki Plan 2021, Te Uru Taiao o Ngāruahine(external link) (the Plan) to the Policy and Planning Committee. The Plan clarifies Ngāruahine expectations of those undertaking the use, management and care of the taiao (environment). It is formally recognised under the Resource Management Act 1991 and must be taken into account when reviewing Council policy and planning documents. It does not remove the requirement to engage with Ngāruahine. The Plan is also for individuals or organisations that want to develop and use the natural resources in the Te Korowai o Ngāruahine takiwā rohe (area). The Council welcomes the release of the Plan as a positive step forward in clarifying the expectations of Te Korowai o Ngāruahine. A workshop for Council staff may be held on the Plan’s guiding principles, values, cultural expertise and practical implementation. Five iwi management plans have now been presented to the Council by the respective iwi of Taranaki.
Work underway to prepare dairy farmers for nitrogen caps
Council staff are working collaboratively to ensure the dairy sector in Taranaki is ready for new reporting requirements around synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use. The Essential Freshwater package released by the government in August 2020 included provisions seeking to cap the application of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to agricultural land. Those provisions, generally known as N-Cap, apply to all types of farming, but set particular reporting requirements on dairy farmers – who must provide fertiliser application details to regional councils each year. Any farm that exceeds the N-Cap limits must apply for resource consents. The regional sector has been working collaboratively to develop systems to facilitate the provision of the dairy farm data to councils. Council officers have met with farmers (including industry groups), fertiliser companies and dairy companies and are beginning to implement farmer engagement on the requirements. The goal is to ensure that the sector is as prepared as possible to meet those requirements from the July 2022 deadline for data submission.