Otago Regional Council Draft Land and Water Regional Plan

// Freshwater

Consultation on Otago Regional Council’s (ORC) draft Land and Water Regional Plan closes on Monday 6 November and it’s important that ORC hears from farmers and rural communities on the ground to ensure rules are fair and workable.

image of waterways

Following earlier community engagement, ORC is now asking for feedback on the draft Plan. It includes objectives, policies and rules that could impact you and your business. 

B+LNZ is seriously concerned about the draft Plan and is working with other sector groups. There are several instances where what’s proposed goes beyond the national regulations.  

Our key concerns include increased setbacksfor high-risk activities such as intensive winter grazing and stock access to waterways in the Taiari/Taieri Freshwater Management Unit (FMU), Catlins FMU, and Lower Clutha FMUs. Ten-metre setbacks are proposed for stock exclusion, including sheep – this goes beyond the national Stock Exclusion Regulations 2020 which require a 3-metre setback and do not apply to sheep.  

Also proposed are setbacks from waterbodies for cultivation depending on slope in Taiari/Taieri FMU, Dunedin & Coast FMU, Dunstan Rohe, Manuherikia Rohe, and Roxburgh Rohe: 

  • 5-metre setback on a slope less than 10 degrees 
  • 10-metre setback on slopes between 10-20 degrees 
  • restrictions on cultivation on slopes over 20 degrees e.g. only for renewing pasture, using no tillage or direct drilling with 10-metre setbacks. 

These setbacks are overly prescriptive and we think risks associated with cultivation on slopes could be addressed in Freshwater Farm Plans in order to create bespoke farm-specific solutions. 

The draft Plan requires additional information in certified Freshwater Farm Plans that goes beyond the national regulations, proposed consenting requirements for conversions and increases in intensity (including increases in irrigated area), and consenting requirements for plantation forestry for areas greater than 10ha.  

The draft Plan also sets out various other provisions that could affect your business. We suggest you look at the following provisions and provide feedback to ORC if these impact your farm: 

  • Potential maximum stocking rates. 
  • Limiting synthetic nitrogen application to 100kg/ha. 
  • Limiting the volume of silage pits to either 250 cubic metres or 500 cubic metres. 
  • The plan is contradictory as it allows fertiliser to be spread within 3 metres of a waterway, yet fences need to be setback 10 metres. 
  • Restrictions around sacrifice paddocks as well as feedlots, feed pads and stockholding areas. 
  • Restrictions around paddocks used for pasture-based wintering. 
  • Restrictions around activities that can be carried out in drinking water zones. 

B+LNZ Environment Policy Manager Heather McKay says it’s really important farmers have their say. “We strongly encourage farmers to provide feedback on the Plan while it’s still in draft.  

“There hasn’t been any cost/benefit analysis done specifically relating to the draft plan, and we’re concerned the overly prescriptive and onerous rules proposed will have serious effects on farming businesses. It’s therefore important that ORC hears from farmers on the ground.” 

Feedback can be provided via the ORC website until 6 November 2023 – their website also includes  a recording of one of their online drop-in  discussions. 

B+LNZ will continue our engagement when the Plan is formally notified (expected at the end of June next year). 

If you need help with making a submission, you can contact B+LNZ Policy Analyst May Ponsonby on may.ponsonby@beeflambnz.com