Nutrient Management and Waitaki Plan Change operative
Environment Canterbury has announced that the Nutrient Management and Waitaki Plan Change, Plan Change 5 to the Land & Water Regional Plan, is operative from today, 1 February 2019.
Councillor Peter Skelton said this was the final step in a three-year process setting industry agreed “Good Management Practice” as the minimum standard for all farming activities.
“The plan change deals with the effects of land uses, particularly farming activities, on water quality at a region-wide level, and ensures the effective management of water quality in the Waitaki sub-region,” Professor Skelton said.
The nutrient management rules apply in all catchments in the region not currently the subject of sub-region plans.
“Resource consent, including audited Farm Environment Plans, is required if properties irrigate more than 50 hectares or have more than a specified amount of winter grazing of cattle, depending on property size,” Professor Skelton said.
“The nutrient management rules are intended to address the effects of changing land use and promote improved water quality outcomes throughout the region.
“With this in mind, we need to be clear about what constitutes Good Management Practice on farm. Industry groups have described what this means for their sectors.
As a starting point, farmers should have a baseline nitrogen leaching rate that reflects Good Management Practice. “This is a requirement for farms requiring land use consent to farm,” Professor Skelton said. “Permitted farms need only comply with the irrigation and winter grazing limits.”
As part of the process to settle appeals on the plan change, an external working group was established to consider some implementation challenges. The group’s work is continuing.
“These challenges relate to the need to ensure fairness and equity for all farmers without compromising environmental bottom lines,” Professor Skelton said. “I am confident that this work will achieve both of these outcomes and I thank the working group for its efforts.
“Excellent progress has been made with our planning work in the last few years,” Peter Skelton concluded. “In partnership with the community, we are well on the way towards completing catchment-focused rules for the whole region, with sub-region plans for the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora zones and the Waimakariri zone due to be notified in mid 2019.”
The Nutrient Management and Waitaki Plan Change was notified for public submissions in February 2016. Council accepted the recommendations of independent hearing commissioners in January 2017. Eight appeals to the High Court on questions of law were received, three of which were withdrawn. In late 2018, Council resolved to make the plan change operative on 1 February 2019.
The Land & Water Regional Plan became largely operative in September 2015. It sets the framework to implement community aspirations for water through the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, a community led, collaborative approach to improve water outcomes throughout the region.
The Land & Water Regional Plan operates at two levels – a region-wide section and 10 sub-region sections. The policies and rules in the sub-region sections can apply instead of, or in addition to, policies and rules in the region-wide section. The sub-region sections implement the region-wide objectives in the plan in the most appropriate way for the catchment.
Sub-region sections that are now legally effective cover the Selwyn Te Waihora, Wairewa/Lake Forsyth, Hinds Plains and Waitaki - South Coastal Canterbury zones.