Long-Term Plan 2021–31

On 17 June, Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury) formally adopted the Long-Term Plan 2021-31.

You can download the Long-Term Plan 2021–31 (PDF, 21MB) from our website

The plan sets the course for the Council’s work in the region – the essential priorities, statutory obligations, and transformational opportunities.

You can view all submissions on the Long-Term Plan online, or a summary of submission points in the Submissions Report (PDF, 7.4MB).

What's in the plan

Key initiatives in the plan include:

  • Implementing the Government’s Essential Freshwater Package, and developing a new Regional Policy Statement and Regional Coastal Environment Plan.
  • Implementing the Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan, plus surveillance initiatives to reduce the risk of pests becoming established.
  • Accelerating the protection and regeneration of the natural environment, including community-based initiatives, such as Me Uru Rākau, that enable landowners and groups to protect and regenerate ecological catchments.
  • Developing a climate change action plan.
  • Continuing to design, build and maintain high-quality flood protection, land drainage and erosion control infrastructure.
  • Delivering quality, cost-effective public transport that meets the needs of the community and increases patronage.
  • Promoting community participation in Council decision making, including investment in youth engagement and education, such as through the Enviroschools programme.

Our work is grouped into five portfolios: Water and Land; Biodiversity and Biosecurity; Air Quality, Transport and Urban Development; Climate Change and Community Resilience; and Regional and Strategic Leadership.

We produce a new Long-Term Plan every three years, as required by the Local Government Act 2002.

On 17 June, Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury) formally adopted the Long-Term Plan 2021-31.

You can download the Long-Term Plan 2021–31 (PDF, 21MB) from our website

The plan sets the course for the Council’s work in the region – the essential priorities, statutory obligations, and transformational opportunities.

You can view all submissions on the Long-Term Plan online, or a summary of submission points in the Submissions Report (PDF, 7.4MB).

What's in the plan

Key initiatives in the plan include:

  • Implementing the Government’s Essential Freshwater Package, and developing a new Regional Policy Statement and Regional Coastal Environment Plan.
  • Implementing the Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan, plus surveillance initiatives to reduce the risk of pests becoming established.
  • Accelerating the protection and regeneration of the natural environment, including community-based initiatives, such as Me Uru Rākau, that enable landowners and groups to protect and regenerate ecological catchments.
  • Developing a climate change action plan.
  • Continuing to design, build and maintain high-quality flood protection, land drainage and erosion control infrastructure.
  • Delivering quality, cost-effective public transport that meets the needs of the community and increases patronage.
  • Promoting community participation in Council decision making, including investment in youth engagement and education, such as through the Enviroschools programme.

Our work is grouped into five portfolios: Water and Land; Biodiversity and Biosecurity; Air Quality, Transport and Urban Development; Climate Change and Community Resilience; and Regional and Strategic Leadership.

We produce a new Long-Term Plan every three years, as required by the Local Government Act 2002.

  • Our ten-year plan for the Canterbury region

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    On 17 June 2021 Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury) adopted its Long-Term Plan for 2021-31.

    During consultation, we received almost 1,300 submissions from across the region, these were made up of 1,159 individual submitters and 136 organisations or representative groups.

    Choosing the right option for Canterbury

    The Council’s preferred option during consultation was supported by most submitters. Referred to as Option 1, this package of work included all the must-do’s (statutorily required work), work we had already committed to, and provision to accelerate key environmental initiatives.

    What we heard about the options

    Regarding the question, which of the options would you like us to progress with?

    • Option 1: statutory work, prior commitments and accelerating key initiatives 58%
    • Options 2: statutory work and prior commitments 13%
    • Other option 30%.

    Submissions were generally in support of taking urgent action on environmental issues, such as freshwater quality, climate change and an enhanced public transport service.

    There was general support for our five new portfolios and priorities: Water and Land, Biodiversity and Biosecurity, Climate Change and Community Resilience, Air Quality, Transport and Urban Development and Regional and Strategic Leadership.

    Concerns were raised by submitters about affordability, particularly in the current economic climate, and the ability to deliver such a large amount of work in the timeframes proposed.

    Affordability of the options

    We asked submitters to comment on the affordability of options for their household and for the wider community.

    What we heard about affordability

    Is the proposed rates increase affordable for your household?

    • Option 1 is affordable 46%
    • Option 2 is affordable 6%
    • Neither option is affordable 48%.

    Is the proposed rates increase affordable for your community?

    • Unaffordable for the community 46%
    • Affordable for the community 28%
    • Unsure about affordability for the community 26%.

    Council’s decision

    With support from the community, Council used Option 1 as their starting point but addressed issues of affordability by rephasing, reducing or delaying some work programmes, borrowing and using cash reserves (see article on Addressing affordability). Leading to the following impact on our total rates revenue and budget:

    • 12.6% increase in total rates revenue in 2021/22 financial year (year 1 of the Long-Term Plan)
    • $129M total revenue from rates
    • $243.8M total expenditure overall.
  • Addressing affordability

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    During the consultation Council explored options to make the plan more affordable for ratepayers by asking for feedback on Uniform Annual General Charges, borrowing and user-pays charges.

    Uniform Annual General Charge

    In this Long-Term Plan, Council proposed to pay for more activities from a Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC). UAGC is a flat fee applied to all households, regardless of property size or location.

    What we heard about UAGC

    Do you support the changes we’re proposing to how we apply the Uniform Annual General Charge?

    • Yes 33%
    • No 22%
    • Don’t know 45%.

    More than 110 submitters made comments that UAGC should be for the benefit of people as opposed to property. Suggestions included increasing UAGC to $100 or more, or towards the 30 per cent cap set by the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002. Many thought that increasing UAGC could help spread rates across the region and address affordability concerns for the rural sector.

    In contrast, about 80 submitters commented that UAGC was unfair and should be decreased or removed as it impacted low-income households.

    Council’s decision

    Council resolved to fund specific activities proposed in the Long-Term Plan from the Uniform Annual General Charge as outlined in the consultation document. This will mean a $36.71 charge per rateable property, plus the Annual Charge for Civil Defence of $14.42 (applies to all districts accept Waitaki). These charges make up about 9.7% of total rates revenue.

    Borrowing

    Borrowing can be used to spread the cost of an activity over several years. It is usually only applied when it is considered appropriate, such as when the benefit of the activity lasts the same time or longer than the repayment period.

    What we heard about borrowing

    Would you support the use of borrowing for operating expenditure to offset some of the first year rates?

    • Yes 43%
    • No 41%
    • Don’t know 16%.

    Submitters comments on borrowing were divided. Some were opposed to borrowing, but it was unclear if they were opposed to borrowing in general or borrowing for operational expenditure. Others supported borrowing to make the most of low interest rates and to enable Council to take urgent action for the environment.

    Council’s decision

    Council decided to borrow to reduce the total rates revenue increase in year one and fund work programmes that have intergenerational benefit. These include the work needed to develop the freshwater regulatory framework, Regional Coastal Environmental Plan and Regional Policy Statement, which have a ten-year life span. With a ten-year loan period, repayments will have an impact on rates for 13 years. Council notes that while interest rates are favourable today, there is uncertainty about future rates.

    Fees and charges

    The Fees and Charges Policy sets out costs for services across the organisation. The policy applies the user-pays principle that fair, actual and reasonable costs for services are fully recovered from those that benefit.

    What we heard about fees and charges

    Do you support the rationale and proposed changes in the draft Fees and Charges Policy?

    • Yes 36%
    • No 29%
    • Don’t know 35%.

    Submitters who supported the changes to Fees and Charges generally supported user-pays principles. While rural submitters supported the principles, they also expressed concerns about the increases to fees for consents and compliance monitoring alongside other rates increases. Some submitters also made the point that increasing fees, charges and rates together will impact on the ability of rural landowners to spend money on environmental projects and on-farm improvements.

    About 20 submissions opposed the proposal to levy swing mooring owners with costs associated with abandoned boats, salvage or removal of wrecks.

    Council’s decision

    Council resolved to make all the changes to the Fees and Charges Policy that were proposed in the draft Long-Term Plan, while noting the opposition from rural ratepayers who supported the user-pays principle and swing mooring owners.

    The following changes to fees and charges were approved by Council, including:

    • increasing staff charge-out rates for compliance monitoring
    • annual adjustments to staff charge-out rates in line with the Consumer Price Index
    • changes to initial fees for resource consent applications and a new structure based on risk or complexity of a proposed activity
    • annual charge on swing moorings for the recovery of wrecks and abandoned vessels
    • a marine biosecurity monitoring fee for marine structures and vessels
    • revised charges for holding commercial events in regional parks and forests.

    Summary of changes

    A summary of the changes made by Council to reduce total rates revenue needed in the first year of the plan and make it plan more affordable for ratepayers:

    Charge Movement Summary of change
    Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) Decreased ⬇ To fund the activities that were proposed during consultation, so the annual charge is higher than last year, but slightly less than was proposed in the draft plan due to changes from rephasing of projects.
    Borrowing Increased ⬆ To borrow for natural capital projects, such as developing the Freshwater Regulatory Framework.
    Cash reserves Same ➡ Not replenished, but within acceptable limits.

    Increased ⬆ Civil Defence reserves are topped up.
    Fees and charges Increased ⬆ in some specific user-pays charges, as described in the consultation document.
  • Protecting and improving freshwater

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    We are improving freshwater outcomes by partnering with Ngāi Tahu and the community to take on-the-ground action and implement the Government’s new national direction.

    What we heard about freshwater management

    Submissions on freshwater management raised significant concerns about water quality and quantity, as well as the investment needed to meet the requirements of the Government’s Essential Freshwater package. Through the activities in this plan, Council will consider a range of options to develop and implement a freshwater regulatory framework.

    Council’s decision

    • Implementing new freshwater regulations
      We will begin the engagement and planning process to implement the Essential Freshwater package now and it will continue over the next three years. In 2024, we will notify updates to a Freshwater Regulatory Framework, Regional Policy Statement and Coastal Environment Policy in 2024. By notifying these plans together we can save money.
    • Setting up a Community Engagement Fund
      We have established a new Community Engagement Fund, which replaces the Immediate Steps fund. The new fund will be administered by the ten Water Zone Committees and direct spending to environmental projects in their zones. Council have committed to funding $0.5M of projects in year 1 ($50,000 for each Zone Committee), $0.75M in year 2 and $1M in year 3.

    Hekeao Hinds Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) project

    The Hekeao Hinds Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) project is an environmental infrastructure project that aims to improve water quantity, quality and ecosystem health on the Hinds Plains, alongside improved land-use practices required to meet environmental outcomes.

    What we heard about the MAR project

    During consultation, we asked people in the Ashburton community to comment on whether they would be prepared to pay an ongoing targeted rate to continue enhancing this infrastructure.

    Out of 132 submitters from the Ashburton district more that 89% wanted to see the Hekeao Hinds MAR project continue in year 2 of the Long-Term Plan.

    Council’s decision

    Council made provision for the enhancement of this project in year 2 of the Long-Term Plan, through a targeted rate applied to the local Hinds Plains community between the Ashburton and Rangitata rivers.

  • Enhancing and restoring biodiversity

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    We are accelerating regeneration of the natural environment through our work programmes and implementation of the Canterbury Biodiversity Strategy.

    What we heard about biodiversity and biosecurity

    Generally, submissions were in support of the need for regeneration and protection of the natural environment. This included support for our biodiversity and biosecurity activities, especially our work on habitat and wetland protection and restoration for both biodiversity and climate mitigation outcomes.

    Many submissions supported the Me Uru Rākau programme to identify priority catchments and support landowners and community groups to protect and regenerate habitats. There were some concerns about the scale and affordability of this work.

    Some concerns were raised about the feasibility and maintenance costs of some programmes, namely Braided River Revival/Whakahaumanu Ngā Awa ā Pākihi and Me Uru Rākau.

    Several submissions raised concerns about specific invasive plants and animals in the region and suggested increasing management of these organisms and in some cases adding them to the Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan.

    Council’s decision

    We are focussing on braided rivers and wetlands – two priority habitats that are under threat. Council want to protect and regenerate these habitats and invest in creating corridors and linkages.

    Braided river revival and regeneration/Whakahaumanu Ngā Awa ā Pākihi

    The Braided River Revival/Whakahaumanu Ngā Awa ā Pākihi project will coordinate a regional alliance to revive and regenerate braided rivers. This is a key element of our work to restore natural ecosystems and improve biodiversity in Canterbury.

    Priority habitats and wetland protection

    Our work emphasises the ecological, environmental and cultural importance of wetlands to landowners and supports their protection, regeneration and sustainable management.

    Me Uru Rākau

    Me Uru Rākau is a new programme designed to identify priority catchments and work with communities to protect and regenerate biodiversity. Council addressed the issues of scale and affordability by reallocating part of the first year funding enabling a phased approach.

    Council has allocated $1M funding for Me Uru Rākau as proposed in the draft Long-Term Plan, but with programme implementation scaled back to one priority catchment in year one ($450k). $400k will support the QEII National Trust and $150k for a green philanthropy fund.

    Regional pest management

    Through our work we want to protect indigenous biodiversity, economic production and mahinga kai from harm caused by introduced pests and invasive organisms.

    Council have acknowledged concerns raised about specific invasive plants and animals, and whether they should be added the Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan. Changes to the plan may require more funding, and will be reviewed alongside an upcoming update to the Biosecurity Act 1993. In the meantime, our regional pest management programme includes funding for managing these organisms through education, engagement, awareness and advice.

  • Transforming the public transport network

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    We are transforming our public transport services to better meet the needs of the community across the region.

    What we heard about public transport

    Public transport attracted comments from almost half of the submitters. Common themes in submissions included support for active transport; decarbonisation of the transport network; improved use of rail; mass rapid transit; fare reviews; improvements to public transport and exploring the use of on-demand public transport.

    Taking action for the region

    The region’s public transport network continues to evolve. We have already committed to several projects as part of the implementation of the Regional Public Transport Plan. For example:

    • increasing the frequency on selected routes
    • moving to low and zero-emission vehicles
    • delivering the national ticketing system in Canterbury.

    These projects require ongoing funding to deliver an attractive, well-utilised public transport offering.

    The new bus contract roll-out, real-time information system implementation, Total Mobility services and the progression of the national ticketing system are all included in the plan.

    Council’s decision

    Council has directed the Transport and Urban Development Committee to consider a public transport service review. They will investigate public transport cover in areas where bus routes have been removed, and explore on-demand transport, like the MyWay by Metro service that has been trialled in Timaru over the last year. The Committee will also review all fares with consideration of free fares or reduced fares for under 19s.

    Timaru’s MyWay by Metro

    During the consultation we asked residents of Timaru if we should continue investing in MyWay by Metro – Timaru’s on-demand public transport service – after the trial period is completed. The service was well supported by submissions from Timaru residents with the majority wanting the service to continue beyond the end of its trial. Most of those in support were either users of the service, or were aware of community members that relied on the service.

    Council’s decision

    Subject to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency funding approval, MyWay by Metro will continue to be funded beyond its trial period, which ends in October. The service will be partly funded by a targeted rate for Timaru residents.

  • Climate change and community resilience

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    We are protecting people, assets and the economy through our work on climate change and community resilience.

    Work programmes include minimising and adapting to climate change; reducing and managing risk from flooding, natural hazards, contaminated land, hazardous substances and waste; boating safety; monitoring coastal water quality; and community resilience to natural hazards.

    What we heard

    The Climate Change resilience programme generated the most comments in this portfolio with many submitters in support of climate change action, including a focus on climate education.

    Some submissions urged Council to take more action to mitigate against climate change, while others were not supportive of the activities in this portfolio and suggested removing expenditure from Leading community resilience and Climate change resilience as these programmes have no tangible outcomes.

    Some submissions expressed concerns about waste management, especially near the coast. Support for the Regional Coastal Environment Plan and more monitoring and focus in coastal areas was noted. A few submitters raised specific concerns about contaminated land.

    Council’s decision

    Work in this area will continue as directed by Council, as much of the work addresses statutory requirements and core commitments. We will develop a Canterbury Resilience Strategy and form a Washdyke/Waikarakao working group.

    Coastal monitoring is ongoing; we will commission studies to build our knowledge, identify any issues, and inform the review of the Regional Coastal Environment Plan, which will be notified in 2024.

    Several initiatives have been confirmed for Contaminated land, hazardous substances and waste work programme, including a shared leadership role in waste, a risk-based approach to contaminated sites, and a mātauranga Māori understanding of contaminated land.

    Climate change will be a focus of a public engagement campaign and the development of a climate change adaptation plan for the region, and a low emissions transition plan.

    Improving understanding of dust issues in communities

    In response to submissions raising concerns about air quality and dust from quarries. Council have allocated funding to work with communities in the Greater Christchurch area.

    Flood protection

    There was support for flood protection and infrastructure in the Leading flood and river resilience programme. A couple of specific submissions were received on river rating district schemes. There are six significant COVID-19 recovery projects co-funded by the Government’s ‘Shovel Ready’ infrastructure funding.

    Council’s decision

    Flood protection work as outlined in our 30-year Infrastructure Strategy will be of high importance. We have the bonus of additional grants from the COVID-19 recovery: ‘Shovel-Ready’ infrastructure funding.

    Update on May/June 2021 flood event

    A significant flooding event occurred during May 2021 in the Canterbury region. Council has not made amendments to the forecasts contained in the plan because the extent of the damage to the region’s flood protection infrastructure and the estimated cost and timing of the remediation work that will be required, are currently unknown and have yet to be assessed by Council. Once this information is known, the Council will determine whether to amend its plan or include the information in the 2022/23 Annual Plan.

  • Regional leadership, youth engagement and education

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    We are actively fostering relationships with our partners Ngāi Tahu and communities to improve understanding of our work and increase participation in decision making for the region.

    Our planning, consents and compliance monitoring activities are included in this portfolio of work. We work with landowners to provide advice, and help them understand and give effect to the latest planning rules.

    Over the next few years, we will make more environmental data available to communities and decision makers so we can work together to make the best decisions for the region.

    What we heard about leadership, engagement and education

    Support for our Tuia partnership to work ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Ngāi Tahu was noted by several submitters, including three of the region’s Papatipu Rūnanga. Several submissions expressed support for a new contestable fund for community groups.

    Our Enviroschools education programme, Youth Rōpū and civics education received support from about 50 submitters, while a similar number suggested that this should be the responsibility of the central government.

    Submitters expressed support for increased focus on compliance monitoring and enforcement and applying ‘polluter pays’ principles.

    Council’s decision

    As outlined in the plan, we will continue to build on our Tuia Relationship with the ten Papatipu Rūnanga of Canterbury and support them to fulfil their role as mana whenua.

    We provide educational resources to schools and communities through our work in about 100 Enviroschools and early childhood centres in Canterbury. Over the next three years we will increase this to more than 130 Enviroschools. As well as our work in schools, we will be establishing a civics education programme.

    Empowering young people to design and lead sustainability projects is strongly supported by our Council. Our Youth Rōpū enables young people to engage and kōrero with staff and Councillors, and to advocate for environmental matters.

    There is much work to do to evolve our compliance, monitoring and enforcement function to ensure our region’s resources are being used according to plan limits. This includes working with, and providing advice to, landowners to understand how to give practical effect to our rules.

    Funding for community projects

    Some submissions requested specific funding for environmental projects or action in the community. In 2021, a new contestable fund for community organisations will be established, to build community engagement and action and to support Council’s transformational opportunities. More details will be available on the Community Organisation Support section of our website in late August.