Mock consenting process held to understand intensive winter grazing processes

Horizons Regional Council has hosted a mock consenting trial for the proposed intensive winter grazing consenting application processes to give effect to the new regulations, contained in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-FW).

Intensive Winter Grazing means grazing livestock on an annual forge crop at any time in the period that begins on 1 May and ends with the close of 30 September of the same year.
Horizons Rural Advisor Ian McNab says the workshop was a culmination of consent process work undertaken over five weeks by landowners, Horizons, and industry groups. It was held to gather feedback from all involved.
“The purpose of the mock consenting process was to ensure that next year when consents will be required, Horizons has the information needed to create a realistic consenting process,” says Mr McNab.
The Intensive Winter Grazing Regulations come into effect in May 2021 and consent applications, if required, will need to be lodged before October 31 2021
Sheep and beef, dairy, and deer farms were used for the mock consenting process and multiple industry groups were present at the workshop. These included DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Open Country Dairy, Deer NZ, Fish & Game, Ag First, MfE, Beef + Lamb NZ, Ravensdown, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Otago Regional Council, and Southland Regional Council.
“Those who attended were pleased to see Horizons working proactively to find realistic solutions, while recognising that these new regulations will affect people’s livelihoods,” said Mr McNab
This workshop aimed to identify issues and information gaps in the preparation and processing of consent applications in advance of the regulations coming into effect in May next year. Further workshops may have to occur in the New Year and that consultation will be on going over the coming months. .
“This is just the start of us working alongside affected parties and partners for these processes.” said Mr McNab
Horizons Senior Policy Analyst Jerald Twomey discussed the impact for tangata whenua and the important role they play.
“Tangata whenua are a significant part of the process as the applicants will need to seek their feedback on whether the proposed activity will have any adverse effects on Māori cultural values,” said Mr Twomey
“Tangata whenua will require an appropriate amount of information, time and resource to be able to consider the applications. Further, we understand that some will be relying on volunteer energy to complete the assessment, so early planning may be required.”
During the process a Horizons built risk assessment tool was successfully used and discussed during the workshop.
A paddock risk assessment tool, developed by Horizons Rural Advice Team, helps identify the inherent risks within the cropped area of a paddock. The tool classifies the paddock as low, medium or high risk for IWG, depending on the presence of critical source areas, waterways, slope, erosion susceptibility, drainage characteristics and stock class.
Horizons is working with the Regional Council sector to share what we discovered through this process. Everyone recognised that this will be a long process but that communication between Council, and landowners and tangata whenua will be key to ensuring a realistic process for all involved.
“Horizons recognises the need to work cohesively with farmers and industry through this process. The information gathered for IWG Consents could be included in farm plans, which would be most effective when used as living documents to help make farm management decisions, which ensure environmental effects are appropriately avoided, remedied or mitigated while still allowing flexibility for farmers. This is something we are continuing to explore with other regional councils,” said Sara Westcott Horizons Senior Consents Planner
Further information can be found on our Freshwater page