The Water Permits Plan Change and Omnibus Plan Change have been called in by the Minister for the Environment as proposals of national significance. This means that notification and submissions are handled by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), and not by the Otago Regional Council (ORC) as they normally would have been.
Anyone can make a submission and we encourage you to find out more about the proposals and make a submission. DairyNZ will be making a submission on PC8 on behalf of the dairy farmers.
What are proposed in the plan changes?
There are three different plan changes notified.
- The Water Permits Plan Change (proposed Plan Change 7)
- Discharge Management (proposed Plan Change 8)
- Dust Suppressants and Landfills (proposed Plan Change 1)
Proposed Plan Change 7 affects both deemed permits (expiring 2021) and all water take consents that will expire prior to new Land and Water Plan being operative in December 2025. Time period for new consents are also affected and will be granted for maximum 6 years.
Proposed Plan Change 8 will introduce new effluent rules relating to storage and application and addresses intensive grazing and stock exclusion.
Proposed Plan Change 1 concerns the use of waste oil as a dust suppressant on roads and requirements for landfills.
What does this mean for me as a farmer?
Some farmers may need to upgrade their existing effluent storage to meet the new requirements. To upgrade or construct a new pond will require a resource consent. When this needs to happen is staged over several years and will be determined by your current days of storage.
All farmers will eventually need a discharge permit to be able to apply effluent to their land. If you need a resource consent for your storage pond you can apply for the discharge consent at the same time.
One area of concern with the proposed rules is the transition to low rate effluent application and the lack of clarity around what this means. It will be implemented through conditions in a resource consent for discharging effluent to land but there is no reference to any guidance in the rule for this. DairyNZ is considering suggesting in our submission to use the soil risk classification as a basis for deciding how much effluent to apply.
DairyNZ's view is that if the pond meets the requirements of being synthetically lined and having a leak detection system, it should not need to have a drop test completed every three years.
Some farmers may need to have a consent for winter grazing in the future if their activities are not a permitted activity. The proposed rule for intensive grazing will need to be amended depending on the outcome of the proposal for National Environmental Standards for intensive winter grazing from the government.
DairyNZ is considering suggesting in our submission to align as much as possible with the new national regulations for intensive winter grazing. This would include changing the 10 metre requirement for a vegetated strip between the intensively grazed area and water, to 5 metres. The use of the term ‘water body’ is not appropriate here and we will propose to change that in line with the national regulations for winter grazing which includes a setback to rivers, lakes, wetlands, and drains.
From 2022, all dairy cattle should be excluded from rivers, lakes and regionally significant wetlands and a 5 m setback implemented. The proposed rule does not clarify if existing fences will need to be moved.
DairyNZ is considering suggesting in our submission to align requirements as much as possible with the new national regulations for stock exclusion. This would for example include changing the definition of dairy cattle to what is used in the national regulations to make the definition easier to understand. We also propose to add a clarification for existing fences and that they will not have to be moved and that riparian planting also could be excepted as a way of keeping stock out of water.
The proposed Water Permits plan change concerns both deemed permits, any other existing permits expiring before December 2025 and new permits. Consents can only be granted for a maximum of 6 years and will allow short term consents while ORC develops its new Land and Water Plan. It might mean that you will have to apply for a consent again once the new plan is in place.
The plan change has already been notified once by ORC and are now re-notified by the EPA. If you had submitted on the plan change before, your submission has been passed on to the EPA and will be included in their submission process.
Otago Regional Council has put together some useful fact sheets about the proposed rules and some Q&A. They can be found here.
Making a submission
The proposed plan changes, and useful information on how to make a submission can be found on the EPA website.
Anyone can make a submission on either plan change. Submissions must be received by EPA by 5pm on Monday 17 August 2020.
Otago Regional Council has engaged a ‘Friend of the submitter’ to help with any questions on how to make a submission. This service is free of charge.
The contact information for Emma Spalding is firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 027 696 1009 from 10am-12pm and 7-8.30pm weekdays during the notification period.