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Farm environment plan template for Te Waihora catchment

August 25, 2014

MEDIA RELEASE

Farm environment plan template for Te Waihora catchment approved

Environment Canterbury today announced its approval of the second farm environment plan template under the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan.

The template is an adaptation of the Irrigation New Zealand template (see http://irrigationnz.co.nz/news-resources/irrigation-resources/farm-plans-asm/) and was developed for use in the Whakaora Te Waihora programme area. Whakaora Te Waihora is a joint cultural and ecological restoration programme led by Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury (www.tewaihora.org).

Acknowledging the quality of the template, Environment Canterbury Chief Executive Bill Bayfield said it met all the requirements of Schedule 7 of the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan.

“Effective farm environment planning and delivery is going to be crucial for Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere,” Mr Bayfield said. “I hope the plans that come from this template will be valuable both for farmers and for the future health of the iconic lake and its catchment.”

“The Land & Water Regional Plan is a primary delivery mechanism of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. It is therefore reassuring to see in this template a methodology that will enable development of plans identifying actual and potential environmental effects and risks to properties, addresses those effects and risks, and has a high likelihood of appropriately avoiding, remedying or mitigating them.”

Variation 1 of the Plan, which will amend the Selwyn-Waihora section specifically to address the serious water quality issues in the catchment, is currently before hearing commissioners. “Farmers have a central role to play in addressing these issues,” Mr Bayfield said. “They will need to operate beyond good management practice to do this and farm environment plans are an important starting point.

“We encourage all farmers to prepare farm environment plans. They will help identify environmental and business risks and planning for their management. International markets are increasingly demanding proven sustainability, and farm environment plans are one way to demonstrate this.”

Under Schedule 7 of the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan, landowners can use an approved industry-prepared template and guidance material or they can use their own template, provided they follow Schedule 7.

“Our preference is that farmers use an industry-prepared template,” Mr Bayfield said. “By doing this they will have good guidance in developing the actions they identify to manage their environmental risks effectively.”

Minimum content is specified in Schedule 7, and all farm environment plans must include an assessment of the adverse environmental effects and risks associated with the farming activities and how those effects and risks will be managed, including irrigation, application of nutrients, effluent application, stock exclusion from waterways, offal pits and farm rubbish pits. Farm environment plans must be audited.

The first farm environment plan template approved was part of Synlait Milk’s Lead With Pride programme - see www.synlait.com.

A copy of the Whakaora Te Waihora template can be obtained by contacting an Environment Canterbury Land Management Advisor through Environment Canterbury Customer Services, 0800 324 636.

For information on the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan and Variation 1, go to www.ecan.govt.nz/lwrp.

ENDS

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