Plan Change 2 - Existing Intensive Farming Land Uses

What will Proposed Plan Change 2 do?

Proposed Plan Change 2 is focused on the One Plan's provisions that manage nutrient loss from existing intensive farming land uses (dairy farming, commercial vegetable growing, cropping, and intensive sheep and beef) in target water management sub-zones.  These provisions are no longer working as intended when the One Plan was developed. Proposed Plan Change 2 will:
  1. Update the cumulative nitrogen leaching maximums in Table 14.2 to reflect improvements in the nutrient modelling software tool Overseer;
  2. Reinforce good management practices as part of intensive farming land use activities; and
  3. Provide a workable pathway for landowners to apply for resource consent for intensive farming land use activities that cannot achieve Table 14.2 cumulative leaching maximums.
Read frequently asked questions about the interim effect of Proposed Plan Change 2. 
Learn more about the modelling, attenuation and measurement of nitrogen here

FAQs: Proposed Plan Change 2

Go to supporting reports and documents

Plan Change 2 Submissions and Further Submissions

Key Documents and Links

Proposed Plan Change 2 wording
Minute 1 of the Independent Hearing Panel on Plan Change 2 Issued 27 February 2020
Minute 2 of the Independent Hearing Panel on Plan Change 2 Issued 23 March 2020
Minute 3 of the Independent Hearing Panel on Plan Change 2 Issued 6 May 2020
Minute 4 of the Independent Hearing Panel on Plan Change 2 Issued 22 June 2020
Minute 5 of the Independent Hearing Panel on Plan Change 2 Issued 16 July 2020
Minute 6 of the Independent Hearing Panel on Plan Change 2 Issued 7 August 2020
Summary of Submissions
Section 32 Evaluation of Proposed Plan Change 2
Full public notice of Proposed Plan Change 2
Full public notice - call for further submissions
Expert witness statement - Topic 1-2 Farming GMP and System Modelling with appendices
Expert witness statement - Topic 3 Farm Scale Economics
Expert witness statement 4 - Water Quality
Expert witness statement 5 - RMA Planning

Plan Change 2 Timeline

  • Submissions close 21 October, 2019 05:00 PM

  • Further submission period closed 03 December, 2019 05:00 PM

  • Pre-hearing meetings May, 2020 to June, 2020

  • Expert conferencing July, 2020 to August, 2020

  • Pre-hearing reporting and evidence September, 2020

  • Hearing of submissions October, 2020

  • Decision on submissions 2020 to 2021

Background - Nutrient Management in the One Plan

The policies and rules in the One Plan manage nutrient leaching to water by intensive farming land uses.

When excess nutrients make their way into surface and groundwater, they can boost algal growth and affect water quality and life supporting capacity of freshwater and aquatic environments. The plan limits the amount of nitrogen that can be leached by intensive farming land uses by setting cumulative nitrogen leaching maximums. The maximums apply to existing farms in target catchments where there is poor water quality and farming is a significant land use across the catchment, and to new farms (conversions) anywhere in the region. 

Cumulative nitrogen leaching maximums were developed using the Overseer modelling software, allocating leaching limits according to the productive potential of the land – known as the ‘natural capital’ approach. The Regional Policy Statement policy directs that these limits must be “achievable on most farms using good management practice.”

It was intended that intensive farming land uses that could meet the cumulative nitrogen leaching maximums in Table 14.2 of the plan would be able to obtain consent as a ‘Controlled’ activity, which must be granted. Those intensive farming land uses that could not meet the maximums would be able to seek a consent as a ‘Restricted Discretionary’ activity, which could be declined.

Why is Proposed Plan Change 2 Needed?

In practice, the One Plan provisions to manage nutrient leaching are no longer working as intended, as the result of two external factors that have arisen since the One Plan became operative:

  • There have been ongoing changes in the Overseer model. This means that farm systems that could have met the cumulative nitrogen leaching maximums in Table 14.2 of the One Plan, using the Overseer version that was used to originally develop them, no longer do so when modelled in the current version. This is the case even if nothing has changed in the farm’s practice in real terms.
  • Changes in case law require the provisions to be applied in a way that may not have been anticipated when the One Plan was prepared. Directive policies to achieve or not exceed the cumulative nitrogen leaching maximums now make it very difficult to grant consent in circumstances where the limits are not met, even though the rules are written to provide for this to be considered.
As a result, very few existing intensive farming land uses can meet the cumulative nitrogen leaching maximums in Table 14.2. It is almost impossible for those that do not to be granted resource consent, even if the land use has not substantially changed since the One Plan became operative.

There are an estimated 118 existing unconsented dairy farms in target catchments in the Region, and around 60 commercial vegetable growers in the Horowhenua targeted catchments.  These activities are effectively not regulated at present, delaying environmental improvements.

The uncertainty of this situation for intensive farming land use farmers is having considerable social and economic effects.

Strict enforcement of the operative provisions would have even greater social economic effects, with potentially serious consequences for intensive farming businesses in the Manawatū-Whanganui Region.

Last updated 18 November 2019