Horizons Regional Council opens consents for new or extended intensive winter grazing

Horizons Regional Council is now accepting consent applications for changes to farming practice involving new or expanded intensive winter grazing activity (IWG) from June 2019.

Horizons’ Regulatory Manager Greg Bevin says that although the Minister for the Environment has decided to temporarily delay some elements of the intensive winter grazing regulations this does not apply to new or expanded IWG established after June 2019. 

“These regulations came into effect this month and consent applications, if required, will need to be lodged with Horizons before 31 October 2021,” says Mr Bevin.

Alongside our IWG consent application form, Horizons has developed an IWG Management Tool to help landowners identify and collect the information required for their application. 

“It is expected this document will be able to be incorporated into Fresh Water Farm Plans in the future. Both these documents can be found on Horizons’ website.

“Horizons’ rural advice team have also developed a Paddock Risk Assessment Tool which can be used on any device, whether out in a paddock or at your desk, to do a quick assessment of paddock suitability for IWG. 

“This information can be used as part of your management plan and can be accessed through Horizons’ website,” says Mr Bevin.

IWG regulations not relating to new or expanded activity have been deferred by central government for one year to May 2022. This is in response to feedback from regional councils and farming sector representatives on the difficulty of meeting the new requirements, which are part of the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F).  This delay will allow time for central government to assess whether the permitted activity conditions need to be revised. 

The Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Agriculture are currently working on a Fresh Water Farm Plan (FW-FP) which will include an IWG module. By May 2022 it is expected farmers will have the option of undertaking IWG through a certified FW-FP as an alternative to complying with the permitted activity conditions in the regulations, or obtaining a resource consent.

In return for the one year deferment, the farming sector and Regional Councils have agreed to make improvements to current practices this winter. 

Mr Bevin says Horizons will be implementing a monitoring programme around IWG practice within the region and the results of this, alongside water quality monitoring undertaken by Horizons, is required by central government to be reported quarterly. 

“Horizons already has one of the larger State of the Environment monitoring programmes nationwide and this is proposed to increase through Council’s 2021-2031 Long-term Plan,” says Mr Bevin. 

Horizons is holding public IWG workshops during June 2021. For information on these and to register you can email our rural advice team at ruraladviceteam@horizons.govt.nz