Existing Intensive Farming Land Uses Plan Change (Plan Change 2)

What will Plan Change 2 do?

Plan Change 2 intends to clarify and amend the nutrient management framework so that it effectively works towards achieving the strategies for surface water quality set out in the One Plan.

The plan change is focused on:
  • Providing appropriate consenting pathways according to the effects of intensive land use that need to be managed within target catchments;
  • Developing clear and practicable criteria to determine whether a resource consent can be issued, including direction on when a consent cannot be granted (i.e., on the basis of overall environmental impact);
  • Ensuring that nitrogen limits reflect the latest science and knowledge;
  • Assessing the evidence and information required to support an application for consent, and figuring out what is reasonable available, and its appropriate cost.
To learn more about the modelling, attenuation and measurement of nitrogen click here.

Why is a plan change needed?

Horizons has evaluated the efficiency and effectiveness of provisions to manage the impact of intensive farming land use on freshwater quality in the Manawatū-Whanganui Region. These land uses are dairy farming, commercial vegetable growing, arable farming of crops for human or animal consumption, and irrigated sheep and beef farming.

The main findings of the evaluation are that:

  • The limits on how much nitrogen can be leached based on the productive capacity of the land (set out in Table 14.2) have not been kept up-to-date with the latest science and knowledge. These limits do not meet the aim of being achievable on most farms over time.
  • The policy framework does not, in practice, provide a viable pathway for consent to be granted for intensive farming land uses that cannot meet the nitrogen leaching maximums in Table 14.2, even though the rules are written to provide for this to be considered.
This means that provisions to manage the effects of intensive farming land uses on water quality in the region cannot achieve what is intended in the One Plan – water quality improvement within the means of most farmers. Therefore, the Plan needs to be adapted.

What happens next?

The aim is to publicly notify Plan Change 2 in mid 2019. We expect to use a conventional planning process for this plan change, as set out in Schedule 1 of the Resource Management Act 1991. This will involve the opportunity for anybody who wishes to make a submission on the proposed changes to do so. Submitters will also be able to present their views and evidence to a hearing panel, who will take this into account in their decision-making.

What's changed this year?

Horizons had previously (during 2018) taken the approach that Plan Change 2 would be limited to recalibrating Table 14.2 and the controlled activity pathway for managing nutrients, and resolved at the 25 September 2018 council meeting to apply for a direction from the Minister for the Environment for a streamlined planning process. However, independent legal and planning advice to the Minister was that this plan change needs to be extended to address a broader set of issues around the inconsistency between the policies and the rules when the nitrogen leaching maximums can’t be met.

To read evaluations and technical reports informing the plan change, click here.

Last updated 18 April 2019