marsden_online: (write)
Environment Canterbury is currently seeking submissions on their Long Term Plan for 2015 - 2025. Locals may have found a print version in their mailbox over the past week or two. You can download the document and make submissions online at the Ecan Website

This is my first time being motivated enough to make such a submission. It may be a little wordy but I felt it important to convey a little of my personal perspective and background rather than a relatively context-less set of bullet points (which I couldn't have arrive at without writing all this out anyway).

0. The difference between a "Submission" and "What [do you] want Environment Canterbury to do" doesn't seem to be explained anywhere on the online form or in the printed copy of the long term plan. From the layout of the form I am tentatively inferring that the former is for issues one has with the plan and the later is for any proposed alternatives.

1. Water management
I am glad to read that ECan plans to lead the way not only in improving water quality but in restoring the groundwater and aquifer reserves which presumably means initiatives to *reduce* the water take from current non-sustainable levels.

Adjacent to this; although dairy is the current "cash-crop" du jour without dramatic industry-wide improvements to dairying practices around water use and waste management it is questionable whether it will leave the region in a good condition to move on/back to anything else afterwards. I would like to see regional resource put towards investigating what use or combination of uses of our farming resources would strike a good balance between profitability and sustainability (even remediating the nutrient balance if possible) post-dairy and initiatives prepared to support/encourage movement in this direction.

There are many mentions of "measurement" in this section of the document - it is my hope that ECan will also progress to "and take action on the results" well within the next 10 years.

I think it is fair that the majority of the "burden" falls on the industry using/contaminating the resource. As something which has long been considered plentiful water in Canterbury is already well into being a case study of the "Tragedy of the Commons". It is regrettable that only by placing an explicit opportunity cost on the inefficient use of a resource do we seem to be able to break this "unlimited for all" mindset.
Additionally while there may sometimes be a valid argument for allowing a productive industry a privileged use of a resource to the shorter-term benefit of society, in the longer term which we are in now this only encourages economically inefficient behaviour at the cost of potentially better uses (where "better" in not necessary directly convertible to a dollar figure).

Re: the stream augmentation projects - if these trials prove successful they will result in benefits over a much wider area as presumably more sites will be established; as such if the locals are happy to fund the experiments via a targeted rate by all means but if not I am quite happy for it to come out of "my/our" rates.

See also '6. Setting the rules'

2. Natural Habitats
In the absence of a more fundamental societal care for stewardship of the natural environment I absolutely believe that ECan, as our representatives should continue funding and driving biodiversity projects and habitat repair (although costs of the latter should be recovered from / enforced on those who have inflicted the damage where practical). Linked corridors and habitats would seem to provide a much more resilient and potentially self-healing system so I support extending funds/efforts in this direction.

3. Transport
I support increased availability and use of public transport in the Christchurch area. I am not currently a regular user of public transport. Many of my friends are and I hear many horror stories (and some good ones, but these tend to be very driver-specific). I feel that a better use of funds than publicity programs would actually be to pay more up front and contract bus service providers with a mandate to improving the ride experience, maintain their fleet and training/disciplining/looking after their drivers.

As an aside I note a recent article quoting that bus ride numbers are down (cite: I am sure your numbers people are tracking how/if that relates to the new routes and may recover over time. Anecdotally I have friends who have found themselves in the position of having to find alternatives to public transport since the new routes came in. If this is widespread it seems like a bit of an "own goal" for Ecan.

I strongly support the idea of light rail for efficient transport of both commuters and goods to/from the outlying regions.

4. Cleaner air
I take it as an article of faith (borne out in the aftermath if the quakes) that any free-standing home should have the ability to produce heat for cooking and comfort without having to rely on external delivery of a resource such as electricity or gas. That still pretty much means some form of wood burner (solar may be getting there). ECan's crusade to eliminate burners from Canterbury, although I understand the pressures behind it, has given me much agitation over the years.

I replaced my own burner after the February quakes and was disappointed to find that ultra-low-emission units were not available at that time. I would like to see ECan pro-actively enabling the availability and installation of ULEBs in Canterbury, especially for those who are least able to afford it themselves, and encouraging landlords to upgrade the heating and insulation of their properties.

I cannot say whether ECan currently deals effectively with air discharges from industry, but believe that until only fully-filtered clean air is being emitted there is potential for industries to improve, and that our councils have a role to play in making that improvement an economically attractive option.

5. Keeping us safe
No comments here

6. Enforcing the rules
I believe it is important to start enforcing the rules sooner rather than later. Attempts to educate and encourage breaching parties - especially if the breach is to some extent deliberate - simply gives those parties more time to stall and do nothing; this is not the example we want set. By all means *while* consequences are being determined/levied work with those parties to improve their systems; by moving early it may be possible to demonstrate examples of best practice and save significant future costs for all stakeholders.

Particularly recalcitrant parties should probably be encouraged to rethink the line of business they are in.

7. Leadership
As our representatives - hopefully soon to be once again our *elected* representatives - I expect ECan to take the lead not only in understanding and (re)presenting widely varying points of view on the issues in our region; but also in being able to reach a compromise between those views and clearly explaining *how* and *why* those decisions/outcomes are reached with regard to clearly defined outcomes. It is as important to explain why a particular viewpoint may have been seen as in conflict with the long term well-being of the region as to identify where the benefits lies, and what pitfalls may await.

To this end it is vitally important that as much information on the various stakeholders, positions, processes and outcomes be provided to those who wish to engage with a process, or later study it, are made publicly available and accessible as possible. I would also like to see ECan work pro-actively to push meaningful discussions into the public eye through the media.

I applaud the steps being taken in utilising modern information technology not only to push data directly to those who will gain the most benefit of it for business or leisure but to pull it from those who are "on the spot".

More broadly I would like to see ECan regarded as a leading the way nationally and as a positive role model and supporter of the other regional councils as they address similar issues.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this submission.

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