From our Chair: Community input critical in shaping region’s future

We need to change the way that we use and enjoy the environment, to safeguard it for the future.

Over time we've seen significant changes in the way we use land, from allowing intensive farming, conversion to dairy, to changes to consenting processes. While these and other decisions made under the Resource Management Act were well intentioned, they lacked the science and modelling technology that we have now, which we can't ignore.

We have some of the strictest environmental rules here in Canterbury, compared to the rest of New Zealand and, although we have made changes over the past decade to limit the impact of our activity on the environment, we’re still not where we need to be.

As the regional regulator, Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury) is responsible for enforcing the rules that dictate how Cantabrians interact with the environment.

Over the next 18 months we will be working to write and update a number of long-term and strategic plans to reflect the direction set by Government, meet the expectations of mana whenua and the wider community, and to respond and adapt to climate change.

This includes updating the Regional Policy Statement, which is a powerful tool that sets the direction for all other district and regional plans. We are also developing a new climate action plan and updating regional transport plans. We've got a lot of ground to cover - and we can only do it well with your help.

Community feedback on our region's future

As you will appreciate, many of the changes will impact farmers and the rural sector, so I want to make sure that your voices are heard as part of this process, and considered as part of any decisions that we make.

We ran a survey which ended on Sunday 27 August. We asked you to share your experiences and opinions on some of the different environmental challenges we face in Canterbury/Waitaha. What is important to you, and what are your aspirations for the region's future?

This wasn't a once-only opportunity. Now that this initial survey has finished we will reflect on what we have heard and test some potential solutions with you and the wider community.

Although it's our responsibility at Environment Canterbury to act on behalf of the environment, it's up to everyone to work with us to try to protect it. It's important that the community helps write the changes that are needed because we can't, and don't want to do it alone.