Federated Farmers and DairyNZ are pleased the Horizons Regional Council has adopted the recommendations of the Independent Hearing Panel for Proposed Plan Change 2.
“This gives some certainty for farmers who have been in limbo,” Federated Farmers National President and Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard says.
“Importantly, PC2 is an interim measure, intended to address the pressing issue about the One Plan’s workability while a more fundamental, region-wide work programme is completed to give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020.”
The Council’s decision to endorse the Panel’s recommendations will provide a pathway for consent for intensive farming land uses located in 32 Targeted Catchments, effectively opening the door to farmers shut out from gaining consent as a result of 2017 Environment Court declarations, Andrew said.
The Plan Change will enable a technical update to nitrogen limits (to reflect Overseer version changes) and also provide an alternative pathway for those who cannot meet these limits.
DairyNZ and Federated Farmers’ submission to the Plan Change endorsed the technical table update, and proposed an alternative approach to nitrogen loss reduction based on actual on farm and catchment reductions, moving away from allocation by Land Use Capability (LUC).
“We are pleased to see Council and Commissioners have endorsed our approach, moving away from using LUC as a tool for nitrogen allocation.
“The decision also provides for a controlled activity pathway for farms who make a considerable 20% reduction in nitrogen loss based on actual farm baselines (with those in the top 25% having to reduce to the 75th percentile for N leaching).”
There are sound scientific and economic reasons why the FFNZ/DNZ joint proposal made sense, particularly when further work is coming to better understand the catchment and implement the NPSFM. For water quality, FFNZ/DNZ’s experts demonstrated that there was very minimal difference in what would be achieved from implementing our proposal versus the Council proposal, yet economically, PC2 as proposed would have had a considerable economic impact on farms and the region.
“We look forward to working with Horizons to ensure the plan change can be implemented as seamlessly as possible,” Andrew said.