Plan Change 5

Plan Change 5 to the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan addresses water quality issues both throughout the Canterbury region, and also specifically within the Waitaki catchment.

The Plan Change requires farming activities to operate at Good Management Practice.

Most of the rules in the Plan Change will only have legal effect once it is made operative.

Click on the tabs below for further information.

 

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FAQ

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What happened on 13 December 2018?

Council decided to make the Nutrient Management and Waitaki Plan Change operative on 1 February 2019, meaning all of the rules will become fully effective on that date. Some of the rules relating to the Waitaki sub-region have been operative for some time.

What does the Plan Change do?

The Plan Change addresses water quality issues both throughout the Canterbury region, and also specifically within the Waitaki catchment (see map next page). The Plan Change requires farming activities to operate at Good Management Practice and is structured in two parts (A and B).

Part A

Introduces new definitions, policies, rules, limits and schedules to require farming activities to manage nutrient losses and operate at “Good Management Practice”.

Part B

Applies only to the Upper and Lower Waitaki, introduces new nutrient management rules and policies for farming activities, and sets a minimum standard that all farming activities must operate at Good Management Practice.
It also introduces new rules around aquaculture and wastewater discharges and sets new water quality outcomes for rivers, lakes, and groundwater within the Waitaki.

Where does the plan change apply?

Part A applies across the Canterbury region, except where specific sub-regional nutrient management rules have been developed. The areas to which Part A does not apply are covered by the Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan, the Selwyn Te Waihora catchment (Plan Change 1 to the Land & Water Regional Plan), Hinds Area (Plan Change 2), and South Coastal Canterbury Streams Area (Plan Change 3).

Part B applies across the Upper Waitaki and Lower Waitaki only:

Map PC5 Upper Lower Waitaki

When do the rules apply?

Most of the rules in the Plan Change have legal effect when it is made operative on 1 February 2019.
The rules that already have legal effect only apply in the Waitaki catchment. These rules regulate farming activities in the Upper Waitaki Freshwater Management Unit together with rules that regulate aquaculture operations.

What is Good Management Practice?

Good Management Practices (GMPs) are activities that can be used on farm to improve water quality - nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment, and faecal contaminants. These practices may not fully take into account GMPs for other aspects of farm management such as greenhouse gas reduction, health and safety, biosecurity, biodiversity and conservation of natural and cultural heritage. These practices are described in the document “Industry-agreed Good Management Practices relating to water quality” dated 18 September 2015. 

What is the Baseline GMP Loss Rate?

The Baseline GMP Loss Rate for a farming activity is the loss rate for the Nitrogen Baseline years (2009-13), if operating at Good Management Practice, as estimated by the Farm Portal. Access the Farm Portal.

What is the GMP Loss Rate?

The GMP Loss Rate for a farming activity is the Nitrogen Loss Calculation (the average nitrogen losses over the 4 years 2009-13), if operating at Good Management Practice, as estimated by the Farm Portal. Access the Farm Portal.

How does the Farm Portal estimate nitrogen loss rates for farming activities operating at Good Management Practice?

The Farm Portal uses a suite of “modelling proxies” (described in Schedule 28 of the Plan Change) to estimate nitrogen loss rates from farming activities operating at Good Management Practice.

Method s28.4 of the Plan Change describes the key assumptions applied by the Farm Portal when modelling the application of irrigation water under Good Management Practice.

Changes have been made to Method s28.4 which affect how the Farm Portal estimates a Baseline GMP Loss Rate and Good Management Practice Loss Rate for a property that is irrigating on to soils with a Profile Available Water between 40 mm and 80mm.

The changes assume an efficient irrigation system (capable of applying soils at application depths of 10mm) is used and that less drainage through the soil profile will happen. For some properties, this may result in a lower Baseline GMP Loss Rate or Good Management Practice Loss Rate being generated by the Farm Portal.

Have any changes been made to the Farm Environment Plan (FEP) template (Schedule 7)?

Changes have been made to the Farm Environment Plan template (Schedule 7) to better align the objectives and targets in the schedule with the practices described in the Industry agreed Good Management Practices relating to water quality. An additional target has been included to require enhancement of mahinga kai values adjacent to waterbodies.

Farmers who apply for farming land use consent once the Plan Change is operative will need to make sure their FEP meets the operative Schedule 7, or they will need to go down a non-complying consenting pathway. Many of the existing FEP Industry templates do not currently meet the requirements, so depending on the time the FEP was created, it may need updating.

Most existing consents (granted from mid 2017) included requirements to meet the Plan Change version of Schedule 7. Therefore these consent holders may need to update their FEP before their first audit. Environment Canterbury is currently working of a programme to support farmers to do these updates.

See also the Environment Canterbury template.

What are the triggers for a farming land use consent under the Plan Change?

A land use consent to farm is required if:

Red Nutrient Allocation Zone
  1. The farm has 50 ha or more of land authorised to be irrigated with water; and/or
  2. If at 13 February 2016, the area a property was authorised to irrigate was less than 50 ha and the irrigated area has increased by more than 10 ha since then; and/or
  3. The area of the property used for winter grazing is:
  4. 10 ha or more, for any property less than 100 ha in area
  5. 10% or more of the area of the property, for any property between 100 ha and 1000 ha in area
  6. 100 ha or more, for a property greater than 1000 ha in area
Orange, Green or Light Blue Nutrient Allocation Zones or Haldon or Mid Catchment Zones
  1. The area of the property irrigated with water is 50 ha or more; and/or
  2. The area of the property used for winter grazing is:
  3. 10 ha or more, for any property less than 100 ha in area
  4. 10% or more of the area of the property, for any property between 100 ha and 1000 ha in area
  5. 100 ha or more, for a property greater than 1000 ha in area
Ahuriri Zone or Upper Waitaki Hill Zone
  1. The farm has 50 ha or more of land authorised to be irrigated with water; and/or
  2. The area of the property used for winter grazing is 20 ha or more; and/or
  3. If at 13 February 2016, the area a property was authorised to irrigate was less than 50 ha or had less than 20 ha of winter grazing, and either of these areas has increased in size since that date.
Hakataramea Flat Zone, Hakataramea Hill Zone, Hakataramea River Zone, or Greater Waikakahi Zone
  1. The area of the property irrigated with water is 50 ha or more; and/or
  2. If at 13 February 2016, the area a property was authorised to irrigate was less than 50 ha and the irrigated area has increased by more than 10 ha since then; and/or
  3. The area of the property used for winter grazing exceeds a total area of 20 hectares.
Valley and Tributaries Zone or Whitneys Creek Zone
  1. The area of the property irrigated with water is 50 ha or more; and/or
  2. The area of the property used for winter grazing is:
  3. 10 ha or more, for any property less than 100 ha in an area;
  4. 10% or more of the area of the property, for any property between 100 ha and 600 ha in area
  5. 60 ha or more, for any property greater than 600 ha in area

What if a property is 10 ha or less in an area?

No resource consent is required for the use of land for a farming activity on a property 10 ha or less in an area.

What are the nitrogen loss consent triggers for a farming land use consent?

There are none. The triggers relate to areas of winter grazing and/or irrigation.

What if the farm already has a consent or permit?

No land use consent to farm is required where:

1. The property already has a farming land use consent granted under the Land & Water Regional Plan; or
2. The nitrogen loss from the farming activity is being managed under a resource consent that is held by an irrigation scheme or principal water supplier and the permit contains conditions that limit:

a. The maximum rate at which nitrogen may be leached form the subject land (measured in kg/ha/yr); or
b. The concentration of nitrogen in the drainage water leached from the subject land (measured in ppm or g/ m3); or

3. The land is subject to a water permit that authorises the use of water for irrigation; and:

a. The permit was granted before18 January 2014; and
b. The permit is subject to conditions that specify the maximum rate of nitrogen that may be leached form the land; and
c. The water permit is subject to conditions which require the preparation and implementation of a plan to mitigate the effects of the loss of nutrients to water.

In the Waitaki, no land use consent to farm is required where:

1. The nitrogen loss from the farming activity is being managed under a resource consent that is held by an irrigation scheme or principal water supplier and the permit contains conditions which limit the maximum rate or amount of nitrogen that may be leached from the subject land; or
2. The land is subject to a water permit that authorises the use of water for irrigation and:

a. The permit was granted before 18 February 2016; and
b. The permit has commenced as specified in s116 of the Resource Management Act; and
c. The permit is subject to conditions that specify the maximum rate of nitrogen (kg/ha/yr) or amount of nitrogen (kg/yr) that may be leached from the land; and
d. The water permit is subject to conditions that require the preparation and implementation of a plan to mitigate the effects of the loss of nutrients to water; or

3. The land is within the Valley and Tributaries Zone, Hakataramea Flat Zone, Hakataramea Hill Zone, Hakataramea River Zone or the Greater Waikākahi Zone and is subject to a water permit that authorises the use of water for irrigation; and

a. The permit was granted between 1 November 2009 and 13 February 2016; and
b. The permit has commenced as specified in s116 of the Resource Management Act; and
c. The permit is subject to conditions that require the preparation and implementation of a plan to mitigate the effects of the loss of nutrients to water and the plan specifies auditing requirements; and
d. The conditions of the permit have not been changed since 13 February 2016; and
e. The property is registered in the Farm Portal by 1 July 2018 and information about the farming activity and the property is reviewed and updated by the property owner or their agent every 36 months thereafter, or whenever a material change in the land use associated with the farming activity occurs; or whenever any boundary of the property is changed.

Do farmers need to do anything if they don’t require a land use consent to farm?

Farms on properties greater than 10 ha which do not require consent will need to:

Register on the Farm Portal:

  • By 1 July 2019 in the Orange or Red Nutrient Allocation Zones, Ahuriri Zone, Upper Waitaki Hill Zone, Hakataramea Flat Zone, Hakataramea Hill Zone, Hakataramea River Zone, Greater Waikākahi Zone, Haldon Zone and Mid Catchment Zone; 
  • 1 January 2020 in the regional green or light blue Nutrient Allocation Zone; and

Review and update information about the farming activity, by the property owners or their agent:

  • every 36 months thereafter; or 
  • whenever a material change in the land use associated with the farming activity occurs; or
  • whenever any boundary of the property is changed; and
  • Prepare a Management Plan.

What is winter grazing?

The grazing of cattle between 1 May and 30 September, where the cattle are contained for break-feeding of in-situ brassica and root vegetable forage crops or for consuming supplementary feed that has been brought on to the property.

If a farm does not have irrigation and is only winter grazing its cattle on a greenfeed crop of oats (it doesn’t grow brassicas), does it need a land use consent?

No. If no more than 50ha of irrigation and the cattle are only consuming a greenfeed crop of oats, this is not a brassica or root vegetable or supplementary feed, and therefore does not meet the definition of winter grazing.

Does a farm need to get a land use consent if it buys in supplements but not every year, and sometimes it is only a very small amount of the total supplements being fed out while breakfeeding in winter?

No. The winter grazing trigger is based on the area of the property used for winter grazing, rather than the amount of supplementary feed brought in.

Farm Environment Plans

Will already submitted Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) or new FEPs that have not been prepared by properly qualified consultants (as defined by the Plan Change) be accepted?

Yes. FEPs can be prepared by anyone. However, the consenting status when processing a consent application is controlled (and an application cannot be declined) if the FEP and nutrient budget have been prepared by an “Accredited Farm Consultant” (for example, controlled vs. discretionary).

When do Management Plans have to be provided to Environment Canterbury, and who has to prepare them?

Management Plans are required if a farm is over 10 ha and is a permitted activity under the Plan Change. These do not need to be provided to Environment Canterbury but need to be made available on request. Anyone can prepare a Management Plan.

Will farmers who already have a recent land use consent to farm require a new consent under the Plan Change?

No, not until their existing farming land use consent expires.

What is the difference between an FEP and a Management Plan?

An FEP is a plan prepared in accordance with Schedule 7 of the Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP). Farms that require a land use consent to farm must complete an FEP and provide it with their consent application. FEPs are then independently audited once consent is obtained.

A Management Plan is a plan prepared in accordance with Schedule 7A of the LWRP. Under the Plan Change, farming activities which are permitted activities must complete and implement a Management Plan. Management Plans are not audited but need to be available on request from Environment Canterbury.

Is there an approved template for a Management Plan?

Management Plans can be prepared in accordance with either:

  • Part B of Schedule 7A in the LWRP; or
  • an industry prepared Farm Environment Plan template that has been certified by the Chief Executive of Environment Canterbury as providing at least an equivalent amount of information and practical guidance contained in Part B.

Do I have to use a properly qualified consultant to prepare a Management Plan?

No, you can prepare a Management Plan yourself, but you must meet the requirements of Schedule 7A of the Plan Change.

Who will check if I have a Management Plan?

A Management Plan must be supplied to Environment Canterbury on request.
We will also be following up with farms in 2019 to make sure they have registered on the portal and prepared Management Plans.

How can I find out what catchment my farm is in?

Go to the Plan Change 5 to access Canterbury Maps. The Series A Planning Maps in the Land & Water Regional Plan also display the catchments.

How can I find out what special biodiversity values are present on my property?

You can access useful information on the following websites:

Where can I find what important mahinga kai species are present on a farm?

There are mahinga kai resources available here.

Advice is also available from Environment Canterbury’s Cultural Land Management Advisors. Call Customer Service on 0800 324 636 to be put in touch with an Advisor.

The Portal and GMP

When are farmers, who otherwise qualify for permitted activity status, required to register on the Portal?
The dates for Farm Portal registration for permitted activities are:

  • 1 July 2019 in the Orange or Red Nutrient Allocation Zones, Ahuriri Zone, Upper Waitaki Hill Zone, Hakataramea Flat Zone, Hakataramea Hill Zone, Hakataramea River Zone, Greater Waikākahi Zone, Haldon Zone and Mid Catchment Zone
  • 1 January 2020 in Green and Light Blue Nutrient Allocation Zones, Valley and Tributaries Zone and Whitneys Creek Zone.

When are farmers, who require a new land use consent, required to register on the Farm Portal?

There is no requirement for farms that need land use consent to register on the Farm Portal. However, farmers will need to use the Portal to determine their Good Management Practice (GMP) Loss Rates.

What if I am concerned about meeting the GMP Loss Rates determined by the Portal?

Environment Canterbury offers 1 hour free pre-application advice for consent applicants. This is the best opportunity to discuss concerns about meeting GMP Loss Rates.

We acknowledge there are some implementation challenges with the potential to affect some farmers. Together with an external working group, we are currently addressing these challenges, with a view to ensuring fairness and equity for all famers without compromising environmental bottom lines.

What are the proxy GMPs for fertiliser and Irrigation?

Table s28 of the Plan Change sets out each of the Good Management Practices modelled by the Farm Portal. Included beside each GMP is a description of the modelling proxies.The Nutrient Management topic relates to fertiliser, and the Irrigation and Water Use topic relates to irrigation.

What’s more important, the GMP loss rate or Good Management Practices?

Both are equally important.

Proxy settings and the GMP loss number

What options do farmers have, outside the Portal, to demonstrate that their nitrogen losses are at GMP?

The Plan Change provides for the use of an “equivalent pathway” in certain circumstances.

Consent Conditions and Enforcement

What consent term will farmers have if they are unable to agree on the GMP proxies as a consent condition?

Durations are case-by-case for each consent, but the Plan Change policy framework means they are unlikely to be granted beyond 2020.

What consent term will farmers have when they do agree the GMP Loss Rate limits as a consent condition?

Duration is case by case, but where set out in sub-region section policies, as below, these are taken into account:

South Coastal Canterbury

Waihao Wainono – 1 January 2030
Northern Streams – 1 January 2031
Morven Sinclairs – 1 January 2032

Hinds and Selwyn Te Waihora – sub-region sections are in place and consents in this location have generally been granted between 10 and 15 years.

Where no sub-region section is in place, the Land & Water Regional Plan states that consent should be granted no later than 5 years following the proposed notification date of the sub-region section.

By what date are farmers required to be at GMP?

Generally by July 2020.

What compliance steps will Environment Canterbury take and when will these start?

Environment Canterbury has a programme to follow up from mid 2019 (letters, phone calls and compliance steps) with farms that are likely to require a land use consent to farm under the Plan Change. In late 2019, a programme will be in place to follow up with farms that are permitted and need to register their farms on the Farm Portal.

What compliance or rollout plans does Environment Canterbury have for sub-regions that are currently in the process of developing their own plans?

Many farms will require consents under the existing regional rules and there is a programme in place to make sure these farms apply for consents. A follow-up programme for farms that require consents under any new sub-region plans will be undertaken when those plans become operative.

What will the consent process cost?

A deposit of $2350 is required. If processing fees exceed this amount, further fees will be required. Well prepared applications are more likely to be processed within the allowed time.
Farmers are urged to make full use of the hour of free consultation with a consent planner after the consent application has been prepared, but before the consent is lodged. If a consultant is used to prepare the consent application, farmers should try to accompany the consultant to this session.

Will there be a reduction of the consent fee due to the shorter terms envisaged for the consents?

No reduction will be made.

Will anyone check if a farm doesn’t have a land use consent?

Yes, we have programmes in place to follow up with farms that require land use consents to farm. For more information, go to Farming to limits - freshwater-management.

No consent required

If the farm does not require a land use consent, does it still have to operate at GMP?

If a farm is a permitted activity, it is required to register on the Farm Portal and prepare and implement a Management Plan in accordance with Schedule 7A.

Schedule 7A, Part B includes a table of practices. A Management Plan prepared in accordance with Part B must contain a description of:

  • The on-farm actions that have been undertaken in the previous 1 July to 30 June period to implement the applicable practices described in the table; and
  • The on-farm actions that will be undertaken over the next 1 July to 30 June period to implement the applicable practices described.

These practices reflect Good Management Practices.

Can a farm intensify its land use if it is a permitted activity?

Yes, provided it does not trigger the winter grazing or irrigated area thresholds for a land use consent to farm (see above).

Support provided

What support does Environment Canterbury provide to farmers?

  • Customer Service on 0800 324 636 or ecinfo@ecan.govt.nz is the first point of contact.
  • Environment Canterbury also offers 1 hour’s free pre-application advice for consent applicants – see above. 
  • Zone Team Land Management Advisors are also available to provide help on request. They have information on catchments and special values. Contact details can be found on the zone pages, or contact Customer Service on 0800 324 636 or ecinfo@ecan.govt.nz to be put in contact.

 

Catchments

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Head to Canterbury Maps to find out what catchment your property is in.

This is useful for figuring out which rules apply to your property.

Waitaki Areas

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Waitaki has been divided into four freshwater management units for the purpose of managing freshwater quality, as shown in the figure below.

Head to Canterbury Maps to find out which area your property falls within.

Freshwater Management Units Waitaki 2