The Waikato Regional Council is changing the regional plan. These changes will affect all dairy farmers and communities in the Waikato and Waipa catchments.
The plan change for the next 10 years is the first step towards meeting the Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River/Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato over the next 80 years.
The plan change will set policies and rules to reduce sediment, bacteria and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) entering water bodies, including groundwater, in the Waikato and Waipa River catchments, an area of 1.1 million hectares.
What Plan Change 1 means if you're buying or selling
Buying or selling in the Waikato or Waipa catchments?
If you are buying or selling in the Waikato/Waipa catchment and are wondering what Plan Change 1 means for you. As part of a sales transaction, important information will be required. You will need to prove what has happened on the farm in 2014/15 and 2015/16 benchmark years. Read the fact sheet here.
Purchasers need to ensure they have verified farm records as part of the due diligence process. In 2019 each farm will have a Nitrogen Reference Point allocated which must be adhered to. Read the fact sheet here.
DairyNZ is working with rural professionals and the Waikato Regional Council to ensure farm advisors are aware of the new rules. The Council website has summary pamphlets about other aspects of the Healthy Rivers Plan Change. Find out more here.
Plan Change 1 Farm Environment Plans
Plan Change 1 requires a Farm Environment Plan to manage the risk of sediment, microbial pathogens, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Read the fact sheet here.
The landowner can choose whether to use data from 2014/15 or 2015/16. An accredited nutrient advisor will use information on a property’s nitrogen leaching losses, via OVERSEER© or another approved model. The council will receive this info from September 2018 with a deadline of March 2019.
It is in your interest to ensure you have documented farm records on production, feed and fertiliser inputs and stock numbers and movements for these years. This is because all land in the Waikato and Waipa River catchment is subject to new rules under Healthy Rivers Plan Change 1. There is no immediate need to supply anything to the council, but DairyNZ is advising farmers to have the farm records on hand.
In the future, the council may require these records to be produced. The Plan Change has a list of records that must be retained and provided to the council on request (see link below). Some activities are undertaken ‘on-farm’ and may not have invoices to prove what farm management practices took place. It is worth retaining other supporting documents, such as a diary showing stock movements to a runoff, dates crops were sown and grazed, nitrogen application dates and rates, etc.
Land use change rule
Another important rule to be aware of is the land use change rule which will require a resource consent. Read the fact sheet here.
What's happened so far?
In September 2016, Waikato Regional Council voted to publicly notify the Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 – Waikato and Waipa Catchments.
The plan was developed using a collaborative process with iwi project partners, farming sector and community representatives, non-government organisations and council who have worked together to shape a solution.
22 October 2016 - the proposed plan change was notified for public submissions.
8 March 2017 - Submissions closed at 5pm
- The Council is currently working on the summary of submissions and an update on the Schedule 1 process will be available on the council website when completed.
The process from here:
The withdrawn area:
A portion of Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora; Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 was withdrawn in December 2016 to allow consultation with Hauraki Iwi Authorities. Council and Hauraki Iwi Authorities have developed an agreed consultation plan.
- Click here to view Summary of the proposed rules
- Visit the Healthy Rivers page at Waikato Regional Council here
- Click here to read DairyNZ's submission
- Click here to read all submissions
- Click here for the Healthy Rivers proposed catchment priority areas
Other activity underway
The industry will still need to work towards the rules as they were notified. It is likely that the plan may change as it works its way through the hearings and appeals process.
- The Farm Environment Plan template and guide are currently under development.
- Certification Plans for Nutrient Advisors and Farm Environment Planners are also underway.
- WRC will run sub-catchment field days.
- Land management training courses are being run for consultants to upskill in this area.
- The registration portal is being developed and will be online prior to the beginning of registration in September 2018.
For more background information on the Healthy Rivers process click here.
If you need more information, please contact Mike Bramley, Environmental Extension Specialist on 027 497 8790 or firstname.lastname@example.org