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If you’re planning to purchase land in the Waikato and Waipā River Catchments, you should consider what kind of information you will need from the seller in order to be compliant with Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora: Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1.
While the proposed plan is still subject to change through the submission process, there are proposed rules and schedules that you will need to understand. Some of the new rules require historical land use information to be available in the future, and if you’re purchasing property you’ll need to ensure you have this information. It is also strongly encouraged that you seek independent expert advice about how the proposed plan change may apply to your situation.
The new landowner may request information from you about the property in order to register, proivde a nitrogen reference point (NRP), and/or develop a Farm Environment Plan (FEP).
Changing the use of land on a property to a more intensive activity may require a resource consent. The land use change rule applies when the new land use is more intensive than the land use on 22 October 2016, and when the net area exceeds 4.1ha.
Land intensification includes:
*Dairy farming means farming of dairy cows on a milking platform for milk production.
Resource consent applications will generally only be granted if the new land use can be shown to have lower losses of nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and bacteria than the previous land use. If you are planning to change the land use after purchasing a property, you are encouraged to contact Waikato Regional Council before committing to a sale and purchase agreement.
All rural properties with an area greater than 2ha will need to register with the Waikato Regional Council between 1 May 2020 and 30 November 2020. To register, you will need:
Farm Environment Plans are a key part of the proposed plan change. Properties over 20ha in size will generally require an FEP and deadlines for these vary by sub-catchment. If you’re not sure which sub-catchment the property is in, use our Find My Farm tool.
The FEP for the property will identify any contaminant loss risks on the property and detail the mitigations that are planned or in place to reduce contaminant loss. The FEP will need to be approved by a Certified Farm Environment Planner. Farm Environment Plans may be developed under a certified industry scheme or a Waikato Regional Council resource consent, depending on individual circumstances.
If you’re planning to buy property you should ensure you are familiar with the FEP requirements of the proposed plan change so you can understand the contaminant loss risks of the property, and the scale of the mitigations that will be required on the property.
‘Nitrogen Reference Points’ (NRP) refer to information on a property’s nitrogen leaching losses, calculated using OVERSEER®, or another approved model. Under the proposed plan change, properties with an area (or cumulative area) greater than 20ha will generally be required to calculate an NRP. This includes:
|Commercial vegetable production properties||
Average nitrogen leaching losses from 1 July 2006 to 20 June 2016 and associated data, including OVERSEER output file.
The NRP will be provided to council at the time the resource consent application is lodged.
|Farming activities on properties or enterprises greater 20ha||
Highest annual nitrogen leaching loss in either the 2014/15 or 2015/16 financial year for the property and associated data, including OVERSEER output file. Records will need to be kept and produced on request.
These properties or enterprises will have from 1 May 2020 to 30 November 2020 to provide council with their NRP.
The proposed plan change requires that farmers do not increase their nitrogen leaching beyond their NRP. It also states that those leaching more nitrogen than the 75th percentile in each Freshwater Management Unit (FMU), based on NRPs submitted for dairy farms, will have to reduce nitrogen losses to below this level.
OVERSEER uses a range of farm management and geographical parameters to predict NRPs and you will need to retain these records if council requests them for verification. Buyers are encouraged to obtain these records from the seller, including:
If you’re planning to buy property, you should consider talking to a qualified professional to provide advice about OVERSEER and NRPs. If records are not available, the proposed plan change states that default values for NRP will be used. Generally this will be input values that represent 75% of the average within each Freshwater Management Unit. Therefore, it is preferable to obtain the records from the seller, if possible.
Landowners may provide existing nitrogen assessment information to potential buyers. This information is only indicative of nitrogen leaching on the property and may not be adequate as a NRP.
The information included here applies only to the new rules under the proposed plan change and is subject to change through the hearings process. Potential buyers are encouraged to seek independent expert advice about any additional regional rules and regulations that may apply to their individual situation. This includes, but is not limited to: the availability of water, effluent system compliance, etc.