Plan Change 8 Consents Update – Intensive Grazing

Media Release - 16 April 2021

While the government recently delayed the imposition of new intensive winter grazing rules by one year, farmers still need to be aware of the rules in Otago’s Water Plan about intensive grazing.

In March, the government announced that some new regulations around intensive winter grazing would be deferred until next year while a farm plan module is developed. The new rules will now come into effect in May 2022, however national rules restricting the expansion of intensive winter grazing still apply.

In Otago, the rules of the Regional Plan: Water still apply, including rules around intensive grazing introduced in Plan Change 8 in 2020. This introduction aligns Otago with other regions in having rules relating to intensive grazing.

While the NES Freshwater rules relating to grazing have been deferred for a year, the rules in Plan Change 8 relating to grazing have legal effect. In certain situations, this may mean that farmers need a consent for intensive grazing during this season or next season.

Consents will not be required if the farmer can meet the permitted activity criteria in the rule. If they cannot, then the farmer may still be able to continue intensive grazing without a consent under continuance rights, provided they continue grazing on the same scale and with the same effects.

If a farmer wanting to undertake intensive grazing can answer “yes” to all of the following questions, they do not need a resource consent:

  • Is the area of intensive grazing the lesser of 100 ha, or 10% of the total landholding?
  • Does the area of intensive grazing avoid any critical source areas?
  • Are stock break or block fed from the top to the bottom of a slope?
  • Is a vegetated strip of at least 10m maintained between the area of intensive grazing and any water body?

If they cannot meet all of those conditions and they do not have continuance rights, they will need to apply to the Otago Regional Council for a resource consent to undertake intensive grazing this year or next year.

Anyone who is unsure but thinks they may need a consent is encouraged to get in touch with the ORC consents team, who can help determine if a consent is needed.

ORC General Manager Regulatory Richard Saunders said staff have developed a process for quick and affordable consenting starting from next week for farmers who do need a consent.

“Our consents team have developed a simple consent application form which will require basic information such as the area of paddock being grazed, which of the permitted activity criteria are not being met, and what mitigations are in place.

“The consents will cost $200 based on the staff time required, and will be issued for the period up to 1 November 2022. The national regulations deferred by the government, subject to any amendments, will take effect from May 2022. An intensive winter grazing farm plan module should also be in place in 2022,” Mr Saunders said.

“ORC is committed to working with our farming community to ensure they are operating within the rules and to encourage good management practices on-farm.”

If people have any questions they should contact ORC’s friendly consents team by emailing public.enquiries@orc.govt.nz, or calling 0800 474 082.

The simple resource consent application form is available here.

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