Farm­ers first to get land use con­sent

South Waikato News - - Property - GER­ALD PIDDOCK

Suc­cess­fully ob­tain­ing a land use change con­sent un­der the Healthy Rivers plan change is pos­si­ble.

But it’s not easy, as Doug and Kathy Wal­lace found out.

The Pukea­tua farm­ers were the first to re­ceive a con­sent from the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil since Plan Change 1 (PC1) was no­ti­fied last year.

They needed con­sent af­ter buy­ing their neigh­bour­ing 61 hectare dairy farm with the in­ten­tion of con­vert­ing 60ha of their 207ha dry­s­tock farm to ex­pand the dairy plat­form.

This is classed as an in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of land use and one of the rules that im­me­di­ately came into ef­fect when PC1 was no­ti­fied was that this ac­tiv­ity re­quired a re­source con­sent.

To re­ceive the con­sent, they had to be able to prove the land use change would come un­der the ni­tro­gen ref­er­ence point (NRP) for the 2014-15 or 2015-16 sea­sons. This NRP is the to­tal ni­tro­gen leached from the farm as cal­cu­lated by Over­seer.

Be­ing guinea pigs meant the process was a learn­ing curve for every­one. It was new ground for the coun­cil too and they were fly­ing by the seat of their pants, Doug said.

Kathy said there were also no guar­an­tees the bank would sup­port the ven­ture.

‘‘It was an un­known to them and they were very cau­tious. We couldn’t com­mit un­til they had okayed it and the bank wouldn’t okay it un­til they saw that the coun­cil would okay it.

‘‘It was hard be­cause there was no blue­print for what was needed. We were find­ing it out as we went.’’

They sought out dairy farmer John Hay­ward for ad­vice be­cause of his long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil and be­ing last year’s Farm En­vi­ron­ment Awards supreme win­ner for Waikato.

Hay­ward’s in­put and en­cour­age­ment was in­valu­able, Kathy said.

On his ad­vice, they hired Rachael Mitchell from con­sul­tancy firm Perrin Ag to con­struct a farm plan and to de­ter­mine the two farms’ NRP’S to cal­cu­late what the new dairy farm’s NRP would be. The process took two months and they re­ceived the con­sent a few days be­fore Christ­mas.

Hav­ing a com­pre­hen­sive farm plan for the whole farm - dairy and dry­s­tock was crit­i­cal. The re­sult­ing 56 page doc­u­ment is their blue­print for how they farm the prop­erty.

Pukea­tua farm­ers Kathy and Doug Wal­lace have a con­sent for land use change un­der the Healthy Rivers plan change.

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