Com­pli­ance chal­lenge recog­nised

Kaikoura Star - - CLASSIFIED INDEX -

En­vi­ron­ment Can­ter­bury (ECan) said last week it would ease the bur­den on farm­ers in terms of their obli­ga­tion to col­lect data on ni­tro­gen leach­ing un­der the pro­posed Land & Wa­ter Re­gional Plan.

The pro­posed plan in­cludes rules to reg­u­late use of land for farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and the as­so­ci­ated ni­tro­gen loss.

In two of the nutrient zones iden­ti­fied in the plan – red ( wa­ter qual­ity out­comes not be­ing met) and sen­si­tive lake zones, the rules re­quire farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties to re­strict aver­age ni­tro­gen loss cal­cu­la­tion to that oc­cur­ring dur­ing the ‘‘ni­tro­gen base­line’’ (2009-13) pe­riod.

Com­mis­sioner Pro­fes­sor Peter Skelton said ECan recog­nised that many de­ci­sions af­fect­ing the way a farm will be op­er­ated are typ­i­cally made in the third quar­ter of a cal­en­dar year.

‘‘These op­er­a­tional de­ci­sions will have an im­pact on both the ni­tro­gen loss for the cur­rent year (June 30, 2013 – July 1, 2014), and the over­all ni­tro­gen loss cal­cu­la­tion for the next four years.

Con­se­quently full com­pli­ance with the ni­tro­gen base­line may be chal­leng­ing.

‘‘ Be­cause these on- farm de­ci­sions were made be­fore the plan de­ci­sions were no­ti­fied, there has been limited op­por­tu­nity for farm­ers to take into ac­count the con­straints of the nutrient man­age­ment rules.’’

In recog­ni­tion of this, ECan has de­cided that the year from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 will be deemed a tran­si­tional year be­tween the ni­tro­gen base­line pe­riod and the first full year un­der the plan’s nutrient pro­vi­sions.

As a re­sult ECan an­tic­i­pates ni­tro­gen losses may ex­ceed the ni­tro­gen base­line. Farm­ers will not be pe­nalised if this oc­curs.

From June 30, 2014 on­wards, all farm­ers in red and lake zones will be ex­pected to in­tro­duce man­age­ment ini­tia­tives and prac­tice changes that will en­sure long- term com­pli­ance with their ni­tro­gen base­line.

ECan re­serves the right to take en­force­ment ac­tion against a farmer if the ni­tro­gen loss cal­cu­la­tion for the property is higher than the worst year in the ni­tro­gen base­line pe­riod and there is no ev­i­dence of a gen­uine at­tempt to re­main within the base­line.

Af­ter June 30, 2017 all farm­ers will be ex­pected to be op­er­at­ing at or be­low their ni­tro­gen base­line and ECan rec­om­mends all farm­ers con­sider what im­pacts farm man­age­ment de­ci­sions made now and in fu­ture will have on their abil­ity to com­ply with the ni­tro­gen base­line.

Skelton said this ad­vice strikes a fair bal­ance in terms of the obli­ga­tion for farm­ers to col­lect data with­out com­pro­mis­ing the bot­tom lines which the rules are seek­ing to ad­dress.

‘‘Farm­ers are given a grace pe­riod to get their ni­tro­gen leach­ing in­for­ma­tion in or­der and we’ve made it clear that con­se­quences will fol­low if mile­stone dates are not met.’’

De­tails at ecan.govt.nz/lwrp.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.