Waikato Plan Change 1 (PC1) will set rules for agricultural land use in the Waikato and Waipā catchments. This page contains the latest information on PC1.
Note: B+LNZ is involved in Environment Court proceedings for PC1. Because PC1 is ‘sub judice’ (before the Court) B+LNZ needs to be careful about what it says. This page will be updated as the Court process allows.
Waikato Regional Council (WRC) first notified PC1 in 2016, and following a Council Hearing, the decision of PC1 was released in April 2020.
The release of new national policies (national stock exclusion regulations, Freshwater Farm Plan regulations, National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management [NPSFM] and National Environmental Standards for Freshwater [NESF]) and the Government’s Overseer report have caused delays to the process and impacted some of the content of the Plan.
Unique to the Waikato region is Te Ture Whaimana (TTWM), the primary direction setting document for the Waikato River. PC1 is intended to contribute towards achieving this vision by making a 20 percent improvement towards the long-term water quality outcome s for the four contaminants of concern. TTWM is significant because it sits above the NPSFM in the regulatory framework. This means PC1 must give effect to both the NPSFM and TTWM.
B+LNZ has appealed the ‘decisions version’ of PC1 that was released in April 2020. With Federated Farmers, we were involved in a confidential mediation process with other parties on areas of disagreement between October 2022 and March 2023.
We are sharing legal representation with Federated Farmers and are aligned on the key issues affecting Waikato sheep and beef farmers. We are advocating for provisions to be practical and workable for our farmers.
Since the mediation process, we have submitted evidence from a number of independent experts to inform the Court and our position.
B+LNZ and Federated Farmers are currently filing legal submissions on preferred provisions. Evidence has been exchanged by the parties but not tested in the Court.
Permitted activity pathways:
- B+LNZ and Federated Farmers are looking to defend the Decisions version by ensuring that a permitted activity pathway is secured for extensive sheep and beef farms through minimum farm standards and farm plans.
- The Plan requires those farming activities of a certain intensity to obtain resource consent, with farm plans remaining the fundamental tool to manage contaminants.
Content of provisions:
- The content of the minimum farm standards and stock exclusion provisions remains a key issue for B+LNZ and Federated Farmers.
- We are proposing to make these more workable for farmers and opposing those parties who are proposing more stringent standards such as larger setbacks for stock exclusion.
Freshwater farm plans:
- B+LNZ and Federated Farmers are seeking as much alignment as possible between freshwater farm plans and the farm planning schedule in PC1 to avoid unnecessary duplication, uncertainty, and cost to farmers. The Council is supportive of this intent.
- Freshwater farm plans have been activated in some parts of Waikato, including the Waipā catchment. The rest of Waikato has various activation dates from January 2024.
- The intention is that farmers will only be required to do one farm plan to meet the obligations of both the freshwater farm plan and PC1.
- B+LNZ continues to advocate at a national level for workable requirements around freshwater farm plans.
What farmers need to know
Farmers don’t currently need to take any action. A final decision by the Environment Court is unlikely to be released until mid-2024.
B+LNZ and Federated Farmers will continue to provide more detail to farmers as appropriate. We have dedicated significant resources to this process and will continue to do so to ensure we get the best outcomes we can on key issues impacting our farmers.
For more information on freshwater farm plans in this process, go to the WRC website.
General information about PC1 is on the WRC website.
The best contact is the WRC. Their general enquiries phone number is 0800 800 401.
You can also talk to your local B+LNZ Farmer Director, Martin Coup – his details are on this page.