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Consultation on draft rules for rural land around Lake Rotorua

Monday, 14 July 2014 3:00 p.m.

Consultation on the development of draft rules to limit nitrogen loss from rural land in the Lake Rotorua catchment has started.

Rural landowners, iwi and the wider community are invited to have their say. The draft rules support the work of the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme - a partnership between Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Rotorua District Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

The draft rules set out how Nitrogen Discharge Allowances will be allocated to individual rural properties using a mix of resource consents and permitted activities.  The rules are likely to affect all properties over 2 hectares in the Lake Rotorua groundwater catchment.

Sir Toby Curtis, Chairman of the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Strategy Group, said the draft rules had been developed in collaboration with the Lake Rotorua Stakeholder Advisory Group over the last 18 months and were vital for the ongoing health of Lake Rotorua. 

“The nitrogen reductions needed for Lake Rotorua are large and challenging.  We all contribute nutrients which affect water quality and we must all play a part in improving and protecting these taonga for the future.”

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder said he wanted to recognise the work already done by farmers in the catchment but to reach the nitrogen limit for the lake rules were needed for further nitrogen reductions.

“Landowners will have until 2032 to meet limits that will be set for each property. We know that it is not going to be easy and we will provide support and advice to help them achieve their Nitrogen Discharge Allowances.”

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick, who is vice-chair of the Strategy Group, said input from landowners and the wider community was vital.

“We need a future that includes both a healthy lake and farming in the catchment.  Through collaboration and community engagement we need to make sure the rules are workable to deliver the water quality the community wants, as well as profitable farming in the catchment,” she said.

Chairman of the Lake Rotorua Stakeholder Advisory Group (StAG), Dr Tanira Kingi of AgResearch, said collaboration between StAG and the programme partners had been instrumental in getting the draft rules ready for consultation.

“Developing rules to limit farm nitrogen losses is complex.  StAG has worked alongside the Regional Council to draft rules that are practical and able to meet the 2032 nitrogen target.  We have considered how the rules affect farm profits and we need more information on the wider economic impacts. Meanwhile, I urge landowners to get involved and have their say on the draft rules,” he said. 

Information is being sent to landowners and an Open Day is being held on Wednesday 30 July at the Novotel (midday to 7pm). Briefing sessions are also being hosted by Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ for their members.

Public consultation on the draft rules ends 14 October 2014.  Feedback will be assessed by the Regional Council and discussed with StAG.  The revised draft rules will go before councillors in December in preparation to formally notify proposed rules in March 2015.

Go to www.rotorualakes.co.nz for information about the draft rules and how you can have your say.

 

Additional information:

  • The community set a water quality target for Lake Rotorua based on a desire for water quality experienced in the 1960s
  • Science has determined that a sustainable nitrogen limit of 435 tonnes per year is required to achieve this water quality target
  • The current nitrogen load to the lake is 755 tonnes, so a reduction of 320 tonnes is needed
  • 50 tonnes can be reduced through urban and engineering solutions such as reticulation of lakeside communities and removal of nitrogen from geothermal sources
  • Nitrogen loss from rural land needs to be reduced by 270 tonnes, about half of the current annual nitrogen input of 526 tonnes.
  • Support and incentives for landowners will include:
    • Support and advice for landowners to make informed decisions on meeting Nitrogen Discharge Allowances
    • An incentives scheme to purchase 100 tonnes of nitrogen reductions from landowners, applicable to reductions below Nitrogen Discharge Allowance levels
    • A Gorse Conversion fund to help landowners convert mature gorse to production forestry, native bush or other low nitrogen activities.
Consultation on draft