Appeals on rules to manage nutrients reaching Lake Rotorua have been resolved through the Environment Court.
Formerly known as Plan Change 10, the rules limit the amount of nitrogen entering Lake Rotorua from land use, to improve the lake’s water quality.
These rules came into effect in 2016. Since then, it has taken four years of work between key parties to hear submissions and resolve the four appeals lodged against the plan change.
Each rural property in the Rotorua catchment is allocated a Nitrogen Discharge Allocation (NDA), which was developed in consultation with members of the Rotorua community.
The allocation means that landowners need to work to a set limit of nitrogen on their land based on its size and how it is used. If their nitrogen load is more than that limit they need to make changes on their property to reduce their impact on Lake Rotorua.
Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council Rotorua Catchments Manager Helen Creagh says staff had been working closely with rural landowners in the Lake Rotorua catchment to monitor resource consents and Nutrient Management Plans, which set out those limits and how they will be achieved.
“The actions outlined in Nutrient Management Plans are very comprehensive and require landowners to take action, where necessary, to limit nitrogen and phosphorus loss off their property,” said Ms Creagh.
“While these types of resource consents are relatively new, staff have been very impressed with the level of environmental knowledge within the catchment and how well individual landowners have been following the conditions of their resource consents.”
Regional Council staff hope to physically visit all landowners with resource consents that are required to be monitored within the next month. They will assess how each farm is progressing towards their environmental requirement.
Ms Creagh said one part of the rules means that landowners need to work with agricultural consultants to model their farm system within software called Overseer on a yearly basis.
Overseer is an online programme that gives farmers the information they need to understand their nutrient losses and greenhouse gas emissions – enabling change to start with the farmer. The Overseer output is then submitted to the Regional Council to determine the nutrient footprint to the lake from that property.
Ms Creagh said the Regional Council recognised that working with agricultural consultants could be expensive for landowners, so had agreed to subsidise training. The training has been developed by Perrin Ag Consultants Ltd and will enable landowners to become more familiar with Overseer, and bring down the monitoring costs.
The Regional Council is committed to assisting landowners throughout all of the Rotorua lakes catchments to implement solutions for reducing nutrient loss - so that we can protect our lakes for current and future generations.
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