Summary of feedback on draft nitrogen rules
As part of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) developing the draft rules for managing nitrogen in the Lake Rotorua catchment an additional period of consultation was carried out between August and October 2015. The majority of the feedback received came from drystock or deer farmers. In addition, there were a number of dairy farms and horse owners who provided feedback. Over half of the feedback came from lifestyle properties.
Staff will refine the Draft Rules on the basis of the feedback and the Draft Rules and any necessary options will be presented to a November Workshop for discussion. Following this a decision will be made about the decision-making timeframe towards adoption for notification.
The following are the main themes of that feedback:
- People who support the overall concept of the draft rules see them as a key part of achieving water quality and recognise it is important that farmers contribute, but generally believe the draft rules as they stand need refining.
- Those who are opposed to the draft rules believe they are not equitable and that polluters will be rewarded. In particular, it was felt that the draft rules are detrimental to farming by small block owners and unfair to those who have previously been good environmental stewards of the land.
- Much of the feedback centred on the resulting loss of options and value for land. It was clearly felt that ultimately the rules will make farming businesses uneconomic, particularly for the small block owners. There was also concern around the constraints on undeveloped land.
- Respondents were concerned with the financial impacts from the cost of resource consents and the loss of income from reducing stocking rates. Longer term people identified the lack of flexibility to access new avenues for increasing revenue to face rising costs or environmental factors that affect farming. Some feedback stated the draft rules would mean landowners will no longer be able to run their existing business.
- Feedback identified that people consider land values have already dropped in the area as a result of the draft rules. In addition, there was concern that future land values will be negatively impacted due to restrictions on stocking.
- A number of people believe the draft rules threaten current lifestyles for small block owners because it will significantly change how they use their land, which also has major implications for the wider Rotorua community.
- People voiced concerns about the confidence they have in the results OVERSEER® produces and that the programme is not effective for small block owners or non-mainstream uses. Respondents made suggestions about how OVERSEER® could be improved and identified clarifications needed to assist in improving its usability.
- The reliability of the science behind decision-making was questioned. It was also suggested that the scheduled science review should be completed now prior to the development of the rules.
- A number of small block owners deem that there is a lack of assessment of the economic and social impacts on the small block holders from the draft rules.
- Those consulted with commented on the lack of consultation and that the consultation has been confusing because of the inconsistent messages about a number of issues, such as the changing minimum size of land holding affected. The membership of the StAG group was also a key topic, particularly in regards to minimising conflicts of interest and representation for the small block owners.
- There was a range of alternatives suggested during this stage of consultation. These included aiming for the 2022 target only, using natural capital for allocation, focusing on phosphorous mitigation, using wetland areas to address nutrients, allowing more subdivision, not allowing any more dairy farms and education. A number of landowners wanted the flexibility and freedom to decide which nutrient management practice best fits their farm context.
Download the full BOPRC report.